The Suntory Water Group, a US-based division of the Japanese group Suntory, has launched calcium-enriched water under the Hinckley Springs, Crystal Springs and Kentwood Springs brands in selected regions of the US.
The company said the decision to produce a calcium water had been made after the US Health Department highlighted calcium deficiency as a major problem in the US. SWG claims to be the first US bottled water company to directly address the growing consumer awareness of the benefits of calcium for healthier bones and teeth.
While the company was quick to stress that scientific data suggested that milk was still the best natural source of calcium - the nutrient which helps strengthen the bones and fight diseases such as osteoporosis - it said that many individuals were lactose intolerant, and therefore could not obtain calcium through milk products. Since water is easily absorbed, and is calorie-free, it makes an ideal alternative, the company said.
The three brands of calcium water are currently available through Kroger and Piggly-Wiggly stores in the north and northeast of the US and in Jewel and Dominick's stores in the midwest. Nationwide distribution of the product is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
SWG said that the calcium water was a purified water, rather than natural mineral water, and that just two litres per day of the drink would provide 24 per cent of the recommended daily intake of calcium.