SGN Nutrition is launching two powdered versions - Vita System and Vita System ENERGY - both of which it is claimed contain "five times the vitamins and minerals of the closest competitor". An inspection of its 27-ingredient strong label reveals this to be true in some nutrients such as vitamin D3, biotin, molybdenum, chromium and selenium but not for the majority of the products' nutrients where factors of less than one are common. SGN Nutrition said it spent two years working "extensively with the country's best flavor consultants" developing the formula to provide "outstanding taste" and improve bioavailability. Vitamins, water, healthfulness The functional water, or aquaceutical category, is one of the fastest-growing in North America as it is in many other regions. So much so that Coca-Cola felt justified in paying more than $4bn for Glaceau Vitaminwater, a start-up little more than 10-years-old with annual sales of about $400m. Vita System is partly marketing itself on its zero-calorie status, something Vitaminwater can't do as it has a sweetener calorie count not far below typical soda products and has copped flak for it. "The way Vitaminwater is marketed and positioned it's made to look more healthful than other sugary beverages, but it's not - it's still just a soft drink," said Margo G. Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Washington DC-based better nutrition advocate, the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "It has this aura of healthfulness that is not deserved. Adding vitamins and minerals to junk food doesn't make it healthy." Powders, pills SGN Nutrition, which has two ranges of powdered "superfood" drinks called Emerald Balance and X Balance, said it had improved the efficacy of its new products because they did not go through a "180 degree hot-fill process" that is common in such blends. It drew comparisons with pill formats which it said suffered due to the use of fillers, "to increase their size" as well as "binders to glue the ingredients together, and are coated with a hard shellac." Typical vitamins were made of "60 percent fillers, binders, coloring, wax, lubricant, and coating, all of which serve no nutritional purpose." Green processes The company also stressed the environmentally-friendly credentials of its Orange Citrus and Mixed Berry offering, noting that each 30-sachet pack ($21-$24) came with a 19-ounce reusable bottle. "People in the US consume more packaged drinks per capita than any other country," said Clegg Hubbell, director of business development at SGN Nutrition. "Unfortunately, very few of those containers, be they cans or plastic bottles, make it into a recycling bin. With our system, people can use just one bottle per month, as opposed to 30 cans or plastic bottles. We're helping them develop not only healthier habits for themselves, but also for the environment." The company was not available for comment as it was returning from the Expo West natural and organic products trade show in Los Angeles where the product was officially launched. Chief executive officer, Anthony Misner, said in a statement. "We wanted to create a product that tasted unbelievable, and also gave people the nutrition they need. Vita System is the result."