Most of us know that drinking water is crucial for our overall health. However, with more and more fad drinks cropping up on the supermarket shelves, it was only a matter of time before a special type of water arrived. Mineral water has been around as a concept for centuries, and it’s still incredibly popular today. However, before you start spending money on water, let’s find out whether it really is that different from the water that flows from our taps. In this article, we’ll explore the science behind mineral water and find out—is mineral water good for you?
What is Mineral Water?
Mineral water has a pretty long and rich history. It’s popularity dates back to the Roman Empire, when mineral water was used for its supposed medicinal properties in their famous thermal baths. Fast forward to 19th century Europe, when thermal baths enjoyed a resurgence. It was at this point when mineral water began to be bottled and commercially sold as public water systems became overly populated.
Today, mineral water is widely available in the form of bottled water. Thanks to its history, this type of water still inspires the trust of consumers, and over the last decade, consumption of mineral water has doubled in countries like the US and Switzerland. Mineral water companies still market the water using messages of purity and health that date back centuries. But how true are these claims? And what exactly is mineral water?
Mineral water is a natural type of water that comes from underground reservoirs and springs. Because it comes from the ground, it contains some essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, and sodium, which are known for their health benefits. Additional minerals are not allowed to be added during bottling, according to the FDA.
What are the Benefits of Drinking Mineral Water?
Here are a few of the scientifically proven health benefits of drinking this type of water.
Like regular water, mineral water provides hydration for your body. While there is some debate about how much water we should consume each day, the general consensus seems to be around 6-8 glasses. This amount of water helps to keep the body functioning as it should and to ward off dehydration. Mineral water will act the same as water when it comes to hydration.
The minerals in mineral water are also known as electrolytes. Electrolytes are the minerals that carry an electric charge. We need them in good supply to regulate the function of the nerves and muscles. Electrolytes include sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, chloride, phosphate, and bicarbonate.
In extremely hot weather conditions or after strenuous exercise, our electrolyte levels can become depleted as they leave the body through the sweat glands. Mineral water can help you replenish lost electrolytes.
One of the minerals in mineral water is calcium. Some studies have gone as far as to suggest that the body can actually absorb more calcium from mineral water than it can from dairy products.Calcium is a crucial mineral for bone health. The bones are constantly regrowing and regenerating, and it’s important that they have enough calcium stores to grow properly.
Lower Blood Pressure
Mineral water may be a good way to support people with high blood pressure. Both calcium and magnesium have been linked to high blood pressure. In one study, 70 adults with high blood pressure were given 1 liter of mineral water each day and their blood pressure levels were lowered. In other studies, however, the link between mineral water and blood pressure was less conclusive.
Some studies have indicated that carbonated mineral water might be an effective way to protect against heart disease. Because of the high levels of magnesium in mineral water, people who drink it regularly have been found to have a lower risk of dying from heart disease. Mineral water has also been linked to lowering LDL cholesterol.
If you suffer from digestive difficulties, mineral water may be able to help. Some research has shown that the magnesium in mineral water can draw more water to the intestines, improving problems like constipation.
Can Mineral Water Be Bad for You?
While there are quite a few benefits associated with mineral water, more research is needed for conclusive evidence that the water can make a real difference to your health. There are also some negative side effects associated with mineral water.
- High in Sodium: For people on a low-sodium diet, mineral water may not be appropriate. Ingesting excessive amounts of sodium can increase blood pressure and add strain to the heart. However, based on a study of European and American bottled mineral waters, average sodium levels range from 63-137mg/l, meaning that you would have to consume a LOT of mineral water to exceed your daily sodium needs.
- Microplastics: These are tiny pieces of plastics that pollute the environment. Recently, some studies have suggested that there may be a dangerous amount of microplastics in bottled mineral water. Microplastics can cause inflammation in the body if ingested repeatedly.
- Acidic: Some Mineral water is slightly more acidic than regular tap water, while others are more alkaline (meaning they have a higher pH). Repeated consumption of acidic beverages may be linked to damage of tooth enamel. Nevertheless, mineral water is still 100 times less harmful than soft drinks.
What is the Healthiest Mineral Water to Drink?
IIf you’re interested in trying mineral water, there are a few brands that stand out from the crowd.
- Volvic - Volic is a very well-known seller of mineral water. This water comes from Clairvic Spring in France. These springs were first tapped for water in 1922. Today, the brand is known around the world. It is known for its perfectly neutral pH level. It also has an exceptionally fresh, clear taste.
- FIJI Water - This brand of mineral water comes from the Artesian aquifer in Fiji. The company itself is based in LA, California. This fresh water is an international favorite. However, because it travels so far before it’s placed on the shelves, it could be considered to be one of the least environmentally friendly options.
- Harrogate - This brand bottles up the mineral water from Harrogate, England. The spring has been in operation since the 1500s and is located in what is known as the original British spa town. Harrogate has recently introduced glass bottles into their collection, which offers a plastic-free option.
FAQs About Mineral Water
Still have some burning questions? Here are some common queries about mineral water.
Is mineral water good for your kidneys?
Many people voice concerns about the effect of mineral water on the kidneys. Thanks to the calcium and magnesium content, some studies have concluded that the water is actually therapeutic for kidney stone disease, and can help to reduce the size and pain of kidney stones.
Is there a difference between mineral water and spring water?
Mineral water and spring water are fairly similar. Both are all natural and come straight from the ground and are pretty much untouched before bottling. Both are treated and protected from pollution and other contaminants.
The main difference between the two types of water is the source they come from; mineral water comes from a natural well or spring, but must contain no less than 250 parts per million of trace minerals to be considered a mineral water. The FDA requires mineral water to have a certain mineral content, while the same regulations don’t apply to spring water. Spring water comes from the ground but has no natural tributary source, and is usually sourced from aquifers around rockbeds.
What else is mineral water used for?
It turns out, many people are curious about using mineral water for other purposes aside from drinking. There are still plenty of thermal baths in operation around the world where you can bathe in mineral waters to soak up the benefits through your skin. While mineral water may have other uses such as cleaning, it’s rarely used for this purpose, as you’d either have to live near a natural spring, or buy loads of bottled water.
While mineral water does contain a few additional minerals, there is still little evidence to suggest that switching to mineral water will have any noticeable benefits. Nevertheless, if you think you need an extra boost of electrolytes, mineral water might be a reasonable, healthy choice.
Of course, buying mineral water in large quantities presents some problems. Not only will the price of bottled water add up and become an unnecessary expense, you will also find that you are contributing to the amount of plastic waste we produce as a nation (unless you drink mineral water bottled in glass bottles). Unless you have a very good reason to drink mineral water, it’s probably best to stick with filtered tap water for your hydration needs.