Bottled water is a convenience we all resort to, especially when we don’t have clean drinking water handy. But if you are confused about whether drinking mineral water gives you the benefits of a “mineral-rich” food and if there’s any merit in picking bottled water, this might help you decide.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “mineral water” must contain at least 250 parts per million of total dissolved solids and must come from a source of underground water. The minerals and trace elements cannot be added to it. When drinking this, you must be assured of this steady level of minerals and trace elements.1
The health benefits a particular brand of mineral water can offer you depend on the type and amount of minerals found in it. Which minerals the water contains will depend on the minerals found at the source from where the water was derived. In general, when you buy mineral water, it may be rich in calcium, magnesium, and even sodium.2 These are likely to be the bulk of the mineral content.3 Of course, it may also contain additional nutrients like potassium, silicon, or sulfates.
The first 3 points that follow list the benefits linked with the more commonly found nutrients in most mineral water. The last 2 are the unique health benefits associated with certain nutrients found in high amounts only in specific water brands. Do keep in mind that research on these were small-scale and preliminary, and the benefits will not apply to all makes of water.
1. Calcium-Rich Mineral Water Has Benefits For The Bone
The recommended dietary intake of calcium is about 1,000 mg for adults aged 19 to 50 years and 1,200 mg for women over 50 and men over 70.4 Depending on the brand, your water may have anywhere from 0 to 546 mg of calcium per liter you drink.5 Although mineral water isn’t the most obvious way to get the nutrient into your diet, the calcium in it has many uses in the body:6
- Strengthens and defines bones
- Works as the structural component of teeth
- Helps muscles expand and contract
- Helps blood vessels expand and contract
- Is needed for enzyme and hormone secretion
- Is important for nervous system to relay messages
2. Magnesium-Rich Mineral Water May Help With Diabetes
The recommended dietary intake for an adult man is 400–420 mg, while an adult woman will need about 310–320 mg.7 A liter of mineral water could contain anywhere between 0 and 126 mg of magnesium.8 Your body needs magnesium for about 300 different biochemical reactions.9 These are some of the main roles it plays in your body:
- Maintains normal muscle and nerve function
- Is needed for immune system health
- Steadies your heart beat
- Helps bone strength
- Regulates blood glucose levels
- Helps produce energy
- Helps control heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure
In addition, magnesium-rich mineral water has been seen to help with pre-menstrual syndrome and postmenopausal osteoporosis. It may even help lower the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality.10
Mineral Water Rich In Ca And Mg May Lower Kidney Stone Risk
One brand of French mineral water that had high levels of calcium and magnesium was seen to reduce the risk of stone formation in a small group of patients who tended to form calcium oxalate stones.11
id="sodium-rich-mineral-water-may-also-have-benefits-but-better-to-go-easy-on-it">3. Sodium-Rich Mineral Water May Have Heart Benefits
Sodium-rich mineral water may have cardiovascular health benefits for postmenopausal women, according to one piece of research. In this small study, the women drank mineral water that was rich in sodium, bicarbonate, and chloride, for 2 months and experienced a drop in their total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and an increase in the “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels.12 What is important to note, however, is that this was a very small study and is not robust enough to draw far-reaching or general conclusions from.
It’s best to not go overboard with drinking sodium-rich mineral water. High sodium levels in the body increase risk of heart disease, and our daily diet is anyway rich in sodium.
So does this mean you should rush for that bottle of high sodium water? Probably not. Much of the modern diet is rich in sodium already, so you have plenty of other ways to get that mineral in. In fact, having too much of it can actually increase the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.13 There are other healthier and more effective ways to improve cardiovascular health like exercise and heart-healthy foods. So stick to your low-sodium mineral water brands for now.
4. Sulfate-Rich Mineral Water May Improve Bowel Health
A sulfate-rich mineral water may help with digestion and alleviate constipation. It may even improve bowel movements and stool consistency.14 Sulfate is also important for the body’s cellular and metabolic processes and could also be beneficial to expectant mothers for this reason, though this needs further research.
id="silicon">5. Silicon-Rich Mineral Water May Lower Risk Of Alzheimer’s Disease
One study using silicon-rich mineral water found that consuming this water for 12 weeks facilitated aluminum removal from the body via urine. Researchers have hypothesized that aluminum may play a key role in the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Due to its ability to reduce this aluminum burden, silicon-rich mineral water could be beneficial.15
Not All Mineral Water Can Replace Your Electrolytes Post-Workout
Can mineral water be a good post-workout hydration drink that also replaces electrolytes lost through sweat? Yes and no. If you get the right kind of mineral water, it may serve the purpose. But if it does not contain the various minerals in the same ratio as your body does, it may not be as effective as you’d hoped. More worrying, if you drink too much water and it doesn’t contain enough of minerals like sodium, calcium, chlorine, potassium, magnesium, and phosphate, it can upset your water balance and hamper normal functioning of the nerves, muscles, heart, and brain.16 Special electrolyte replacement drinks which get the balance right are a safer option. Of course, you can continue to use mineral water to quench your thirst after a workout, just don’t expect it to replace all the lost salts unless it contains the right minerals.
Not All Mineral Water Has The Same Levels Of Minerals, So Choose Carefully
Remember, what brand of water you buy counts since the water’s mineral content can make all the difference. As one piece of investigative research found, the variation between different brands can sometimes be huge. Researchers discovered that:
- Magnesium content could vary from 126 mg per liter to as little as 0 mg per liter.
- Calcium content was as high as 546 mg per liter or down to 0 mg per liter.
- Sodium content could vary from 1,200 mg per liter to 0 mg per liter.
So when you pick your mineral water bottle, whether it is still or sparkling, be sure to read the label. Check for the levels of the nutrients you want and the ones you want to avoid. And then pick up that bottle of mineral water and raise a toast to a decision made well.17
Plain Sparkling Mineral Water Is Not Harmful
Mineral water may be available as sparkling or still water. While sparkling mineral water has got a bad rap over the years, the acidity from carbonization may, in reality, be too low for it to impact your bones, gut, or teeth – as long as you pick plain and not flavored sparkling water. So it may just boil down to personal preference.18 You must also read the packaging to confirm that the mineral content is the same in the sparkling variant and the still variant of the mineral water of your choice.
Mineral Water Can’t Substitute Food Or Fix A Mineral Deficiency
If you are low in magnesium and calcium, mineral water can be a way to bridge that gap without significantly altering your diet. While this is, in theory, a good idea, the reality is that you will still need to ensure you have a balanced diet and perhaps just swap out your regular tap water with mineral water to see if that helps. Mineral water is not a substitute for a diet rich in vitamins and minerals. Neither should you view it as an alternative to proper treatment for a medical condition linked to a mineral deficiency.
Not All Bottled Water Equals Mineral Water
Not all bottled water is created alike. Mineral water is just one specific kind of bottled water. So what are some of the others?
- Purified water that has undergone processes like deionization, reverse osmosis, or distillation
- Spring water collected at the source and which retains its original physical properties – that is, it is of the same quality and composition as the water that flowed to the earth’s surface from the spring
These popular varieties of bottled water might naturally contain some amount of minerals. But that doesn’t make them mineral water.19
Mineral Water Isn’t Always Better Than Tap Water
If your question is at a more fundamental level and you are wondering whether to even have bottled water or if your tap water is good enough, here’s some insight.
Like all bottled water, mineral water also undergoes treatment to remove contaminants and this is important if you’re living in an area where the tap water is unclean or murky or contaminated in some form. But for everyone else, tap water may be just as fine, especially if you intend to boil it or use a home purifier to treat it before drinking. As researchers point out, when it comes to the mineral content of bottled mineral water, sometimes tap water actually edges out the bottled water! If the tap water in your area is giving you more nutrients and is otherwise safe to drink, you may be better off drinking it rather than spending money on buying bottled water.20
In a nutshell, it really boils down to the mineral content in the brands you choose and how it compares against the tap water in your area.
|↑1||Bottled Water Everywhere: Keeping it Safe. FDA.|
|↑2, ↑5, ↑8, ↑17||Garzon, Philippe, and Mark J. Eisenberg. “Variation in the mineral content of commercially available bottled waters: implications for health and disease.” The American Journal of Medicine 105, no. 2 (1998): 125-130.|
|↑3||Why Your Bottled Water Contains Four Different Ingredients.
|↑4||Calcium. Office of Dietary Supplements.|
|↑7||Magnesium. Office of Dietary Supplements.|
|↑9||Magnesium in diet.
|↑10, ↑14||Quattrini, Sara, Barbara Pampaloni, and Maria Luisa Brandi. “Natural mineral waters: chemical characteristics and health effects.” Clinical Cases in Mineral and Bone Metabolism 13, no. 3 (2016): 173.|
|↑11||Rodgers, Allen L. “Effect of mineral water containing calcium and magnesium on calcium oxalate urolithiasis risk factors.” Urologia internationalis 58, no. 2 (1997): 93-99.|
|↑12||Schoppen, Stefanie, Ana M. Pérez-Granados, Ángeles Carbajal, Pilar Oubiña, Francisco J. Sánchez-Muniz, Juan A. Gómez-Gerique, and M. Pilar Vaquero. “A sodium-rich carbonated mineral water reduces cardiovascular risk in postmenopausal women.” The Journal of nutrition 134, no. 5 (2004): 1058-1063.|
|↑13||Health Risks and Disease Related to Salt and Sodium.
|↑15||Davenward, Samantha, Peter Bentham, Jan Wright, Peter Crome, Deborah Job, Anthony Polwart, and Christopher Exley. “Silicon-rich mineral water as a non-invasive test of the ‘aluminum hypothesis’ in Alzheimer’s disease.” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 33, no. 2 (2013): 423-430.|
|↑16||Fluid and Electrolyte Balance.
|↑18||Is Sparkling Water Really Bad for You?. BBC.|
|↑19||Types of Water – Bottled. International Bottled Water Association.|
|↑20||Ward, Lorna A., Owen L. Cain, Ryan A. Mullally, Kathryn S. Holliday, Aaron GH Wernham, Paul D. Baillie, and Sheila M. Greenfield. “Health beliefs about bottled water: a qualitative study.” BMC Public Health 9, no. 1 (2009): 196.|