There is considerable debate among scientists and so called health experts as to the different benefits of minerals from drinking water. The answer is clear, but maybe not what you would expect. First, let’s define the basics of minerals and mineral water.
Minerals are inorganic substances (such as rocks and similar matter) found in the earth strata, as opposed to organic substances such as plant and animal matter.
Just like vitamins, minerals help your body grow, develop, and stay healthy. The body uses minerals to perform many different functions — from building strong bones to transmitting nerve impulses. Some minerals are even used to make hormones or maintain a normal heartbeat.
Inorganic minerals described above can be found in tap water coming from mountains, rivers, groundwater, aquifers and some bottled water but less so in rain water or desalinated water. Yes, you read that right, tap water can often contain as much minerals as bottled “mineral” or “spring” water. This means you’re getting mineral water almost for free from your tap.
The amount of minerals in tap and bottled water differs a lot depending on its original source, so therefore you need to check your local water report or the label of the bottle to find out the content.
Health benefits of mineral water
So back to the question: Are there any health benefits from mineral water?
If you drink two liters of water a day, you could be getting 10 to 15% of your daily calcium requirement and up to a third of your required magnesium just from the water you drink.
WHO researchers also warn about the health risks of demineralised water: “Sufficient evidence is now available to confirm the health consequences from drinking water deficient in calcium or magnesium. Many studies show that higher water magnesium is related to decreased risks for Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) and especially for sudden death from CVD.“
This is contrary to many “health experts” and “water filter specialists” that recommend purified water with low TDS (organic and inorganic substances such as calcium and magnesium). It also means that reverse osmosis (ro water) and distilled water or bottled one could have negative health effects. Learn more about why TDS is a poor measure of water quality here and how to find out if you have calcium deficiency here.
There is similar evidence from research in Israel on desalinated water, indicating that the lack of magnesium in tap water could lead to deficiencies depending on diet.
But inorganic minerals through drinking water is not the only way of getting enough minerals. You can get e.g. calcium from rocks mined from the earth or you can get it from dairy products or fruits and vegetables.
What about bottled mineral water?
There is no evidence that bottled mineral water would be healthier than tap water with similar mineral content. Check your local water report to find out the mineral content. If you live in Barcelona you can find it here. For bottled mineral water, remember to check the label. If the water doesn’t contain the recommended minimum 20 mg/l of calcium and 10 mg/l of magnesium, then make sure you’re getting this from another source. You can learn more about the benefits of magnesium through this infographic and find out about 35 vegan calcium sources on this great blog post by Happy Happy Vegan.
And if I don’t like the taste of tap water?
If you want to drink tap water as a source of minerals but don’t like it’s taste, get a high quality water filter such as TAPP 1 that filters out more than 70 contaminants such as chlorine, heavy metals and pesticides, but leaves the minerals and a good taste.
Additional sources and research:
- NIH research on health benefits of minerals in drinking water
- Italian research on biochemical and other health benefits of mineral water