What a world we live in…Even water has gotten a makeover…
Mineral waters like San Pellegrino and Topo Chico are popping up everywhere. Water is now cool.
But is it worth the price? Or should you just stick to your tap water?
In this article I am going to discuss what mineral water is and 5 health benefits of drinking it.
What is Mineral Water
Mineral water is water sourced from springs around the world and naturally contains high amounts of minerals including:
- Bicarbonate Ion
The mineral content varies based on the source of the water. Mineral content can also impact the taste and mouthfeel of the water. So, if you’ve noticed a difference between brands, it’s not in your imagination.
There are international standards regulating mineral water. These include what is defined as mineral water and how it’s bottled. According to the FDA mineral water must originate from a protected underground water source.
It must have consistent levels of naturally occurring minerals and trace elements (*). The standard for this is 250 parts per million total dissolved solids. Mineral water must also be bottled at the source.
While it is viewed as a natural, unprocessed water it may actually undergo some mild processing to remove naturally occurring toxins like arsenic or by adding carbonation.
A Brief History of Mineral Water
Mineral water is literally one of the oldest health remedies around. Throughout history mineral waters have been used to heal and restore the body. Medicinal practices included consuming mineral water at its source as well as bathing in it for the transdermal benefits. Modern terms like “bath”, “spa”, and “well” were used to differentiate soaking water from drinking water.
While travel to therapeutic spring waters used to be relatively common, today travel costs and protection of springs by environmental and commercial interests make it difficult. The most accessible way to obtain the health benefits of mineral water on a daily basis comes from drinking bottled mineral water.
The Scoop on Minerals
Minerals are an essential nutrient and are involved in a variety of physiologic functions from nerve impulses to digestion and beyond. Minerals are in food and regular drinking water however, research has shown that over farming practices have led to declines in the nutritional value of foods where minerals are naturally founds (*).
The mineral content of tap water is generally lower than true mineral water and therefore there can be a potential benefit of drinking it on a regular basis.
Let’s take a look at the role of the minerals found in mineral water (*)
- Calcium: bone health, nerve transmission, blood clotting
- Magnesium: relaxation of muscles, bone health, healthy blood pressure, fat metabolism, creation of proteins within the body
- Potassium: healthy blood pressure, fluid balance
- Iron: helps blood deliver oxygen to tissues
- Fluoride: prevention of cavities
- Sodium: fluid balance, regulates blood pressure
- Sulfur: supports detoxification, digestive health, cartilage/hair/nail formation
- Bicarbonate Ion: neutralizes stomach acid, promotes healthy digestion
But First, Water!
Before we get into the health benefits of mineral water it’s important to remember that water, in general, is an essential nutrient required for good health. Water is necessary for every metabolic reaction in the body. Optimal hydration contributes to peak mental and physical performance.
A good starting point for maintaining hydration is drinking half your body weight in oz. of water. If you weigh 150 lbs. this means drinking 75 oz. of water daily. You may require more fluid if you’re working out, in a hot climate or running a fever since water helps keep the body cool. And don’t overdo it – drinking too much water dilutes your body’s electrolytes and can actually make you seriously sick.
The Top 5 Health Benefits of Mineral Water
Why would you opt for mineral water instead of regular water?
The natural mineral content of water does provide some health benefits. Here are the top 5 that matter:
#1 Improves Heart Health:
Magnesium is known as the relaxation mineral and most people are deficient in it. Even worse, caffeine and stress deplete magnesium. So if you’re running around coffee in hand, stress through the roof, unable to relax – listen up, this is for you!
Magnesium is a super nutrient that helps maintain heart and blood pressure function, normal blood sugar and regulates the nervous system. Magnesium containing mineral waters have even shown to reduce risk of death from heart disease (*).
Women need around 320 mg of magnesium daily and men around 420 mg. Mineral water varies in magnesium content based on the source.
There are thousands of brands of mineral water so it would be impossible to name all of those highest in magnesium. Some of the commercially available mineral waters high in magnesium include Gerolsteiner (Germany, 108 mg/liter) and Badoit (France, 80 mg/liter).
Mineral water alone likely is not sufficient to satisfy your MG, but it’s a great natural way to supplement to get there.
#2 Strengthens Bones
Minerals like calcium and magnesium are required for strong, healthy bones. Mineral water is high in these nutrients. Studies have shown that mineral water can be a significant source of dietary calcium (*).
Calcium needs vary based on life stage but, most adults need between 1000-1300 mg per day. Some of the commercially available mineral waters high in calcium include Gerolsteiner (Germany, 364 mg/liter), Aproz (Switzerland, 454 mg/liter), and Contrex (France, 467 mg/liter).
To put this in perspective, a glass of milk, the food that is often cited as the gold standard for calcium, has 300 mg of calcium (*).
#3 Improves Regularity: Makes it Easier to Go #2
Mineral waters can make it easier to go! Mineral water rich in magnesium sulfate and sodium sulfate promote regular bowel movements and soft stool consistency. Magnesium draws water into the digestive tract creating a softer stool that is easier to pass (*).
#4 Calms Upset Stomach
Mineral waters rich in bicarbonate ion (bicarb ion for short) neutralize stomach acid, increase the speed of digestion and may stimulate digestive secretions.
#5 Good Alternative to Soda
Giving up a soda addiction, like any other, is hard. Mineral water is a great alternative that is completely natural and free from sugar and chemicals. The carbonation can spruce things up, while the minerals replenish your deficiencies.
Other Health Benefits Needing More Research
Some proponents of mineral water speculate the high sulfur content benefits human health. Sulfur plays a critical role in human health as it is a component of compounds found in all body cells including alpha lipoic acid, glutathione (the body’s master antioxidant) as well as B-vitamins required for energy production.
Sulfur in the diet exists largely through animal protein. However, vegetables (ex. Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage – sulfur gives these vegetables their smell) and mineral water are also sources.
The hypothesis surrounding sulfur and health unfolds like this – sulfur is required to support detoxification and prevent damage from oxidative stress, the world is becoming increasingly more toxic therefore, we need more dietary sulfur.
Most of the research on sulfur and health has been focused on sulfur containing amino acids rather than sulfur containing water. However, the available research has concluded that there are a variety of medical conditions for which sulfur compounds can be used therapeutically (*).
Most mineral water is calorie and sugar-free, however, some varieties are flavored and or sweetened. Sugar in beverages is linked to obesity, elevated blood sugar, and cavities.
Children’s nutrient needs are different from adults. For many nutrients, children’s requirements are much lower. Therefore, use caution when sharing mineral water with kids. Some is good, more is not always better.
Plastic bottles may contain BPA a compound known to interfere with healthy hormone function. BPA is also associated with cancer (*). Choose mineral waters in glass bottles or BPA free plastic bottles. Make sure to store water in plastic bottles in cooler temperatures and never in your car on a hot day.
A Comparison of Common Brands
Here is a simple comparison of common mineral water brands and the minerals provider per liter(*,*). Keep in mind, the water may be sold in smaller bottles as well, which would not provide as many minerals as the full one liter bottle.
The Take Home
Drink Enough: Optimal hydration is required for good health. Hydration can be achieved with all sources of water including mineral, tap, distilled and spring. Start with half your body weight in oz. and adjust as needed from there. More water is required as body temperature rises due to changes in weather, vigorous exercise or illness.
Mix in Nutrient Rich Mineral Water: Mineral water has a higher mineral content than regular tap water. Many of these minerals are associated with good health. Because mineral content varies, do your homework before spending your money.
Do Your Homework: Based on the available information, waters that are readily available in the US with good mineral content include San Pellegrino and Gerolsteiner. While Topo Chico has been gaining popularity in recent years, it isn’t as high in minerals as other brands.
Choose Unsweetened: Choose unsweetened mineral water to avoid excess calories and sugar that can interfere with good health.
Choose BPA Free Packaging: Choose mineral water bottled in glass or BPA free plastic bottles.
Do you have a favorite mineral water? Before you hit up the nutritionals on their website check out this time saving mineral water comparison tool.
Drinking high-quality water is one of the pillars of the Carnivore Aurelius way of life.
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