Many beverages on the market today have added nutrients, and on-package marketing makes claims about the benefits of these extra vitamins.

However, new research suggests that there is little or no benefit from the nutrient additions in novel beverages (such as vitamin waters, energy drinks and novel juices).

Scientists at the University of Toronto and Ryerson University investigated the nutritional benefits of a variety of these beverages sold in Canadian supermarkets. They assessed each product's micronutrient composition, revealing extensive enrichment — often at levels well in excess of nutrient requirements.

Vitamins B6, B12, C and niacin were most commonly added to the beverages. Yet, with the exception of vitamin C, young Canadian adults — the key target group for these products — are already consuming enough of these nutrients to meet their needs.

As a result, there is little evidence that consumers would benefit from the micronutrients most commonly found in these products, in contrast to the on-package marketing.

Messages on the packaging highlighted nutritional attributes such as immune support and antioxidant properties, and some made claims related to specific nutrients. In addition, the researchers found statements related to performance and emotional well-being, claiming benefits that go beyond conventional nutritional science.

The findings of the research have been published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. The journal's publisher, Canadian Science Publishing, said that the study raises questions about what measures need to be taken to ensure that consumers of these beverages are not misled or exposed to unnecessarily high nutrient loads with no potential benefit.