Mineral water is obtained from natural springs and underground reservoirs. It is rich in essential nutrients and said to possess some therapeutic properties.
It contains calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium (1). Thus, it is claimed to provide some unexpected health benefits. Drinking mineral water may promote bone, digestive, and heart health, and lower blood pressure.
In this article, we talk about the difference between mineral water and tap water, and the potential health benefits and side effects of mineral water.
Mineral Water Vs. Regular Water
Mineral water is more acidic than tap water and has a sour taste due to the presence of carbonic acid. Both types of water contain minerals and undergo some sort of processing. Based on the current evidence, the differences are not very significant. Here’s what you need to know.
I. Mineral Water
Mineral water contains added minerals (depends on the source) or dissolved substances to alter its taste. People believe that it has some medicinal properties because of the minerals in it. As per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), mineral water must contain at least 250 parts per million of total dissolved solids (2).
Minerals that are often present in mineral water include:
Listed above are some of the macronutrients that are essential for performing bodily functions such as protein synthesis, bone formation, cartilage formation, etc. (3).
Besides some micronutrients, trace elements are essential for some biological functions such as hormone synthesis, enzyme production, prevention of tooth decay, etc. (3).
Unlike normal tap water, mineral water is usually bottled at the source in plastic or glass bottles. Some people prefer mineral water due to its therapeutic value. However, mineral water may undergo some processing to remove bacteria or toxic substances (4). Daily intake of mineral water is essential to maintain body water equilibrium (3).
II. Tap Water
Tap water is treated with chlorine and delivered to households through pipes and purification systems.
Before reaching households, tap water undergoes a chemical disinfection process in the water treatment plant. The clean water then gets delivered through the underground piping system. However, some minerals in the tap water can corrode pipes and pollute drinking water.
In the U.S., tap water must meet the Safe Drinking Water Act standards established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (5).
Now that you know the difference between mineral water and tap water, let’s check out the health benefits of mineral water!
6 Health Benefits Of Mineral Water
1. A Source Of Magnesium
Mineral water is a rich source of magnesium, which plays a major role in regulating bodily functions such as nerve function, controlling blood glucose levels, and regulating blood pressure (6).
Depending on the source, the amount of magnesium in mineral water may vary. The Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for magnesium are as follows (6):
- 310-320 mg for adult women
- 350-400 mg for pregnant women
- 310-360 mg for lactating women
- 400-420 mg for adult men
Magnesium deficiency may cause symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, fatigue, muscle weakness, tremors, and vertigo. In severe cases, it can also lead to seizures, hearing loss, migraines, osteoporosis, and irregular heartbeat (7).
2. May Help Lower Blood Pressure
Mineral water is a good source of calcium and magnesium (1). Thus, it is said to be beneficial for people with blood pressure issues. Magnesium and calcium deficiencies may contribute to hypertension (8), (9). Both these minerals are actively involved in the electrolytic process of the human brain and body. This electrolytic balance is essential for the maintenance of blood pressure and circulation. It also helps quicken hydration in humans (10).
A study conducted by Göteborg University (Sweden) found that drinking mineral water may help lower blood pressure in people with elevated blood pressure (11).
A study conducted on 70 people with borderline hypertension also found that drinking 1 litre of mineral water per day lowered their blood pressure (11).
However, more studies are required to understand the role of drinking mineral water in blood pressure management.
3. Promotes Bone Health
Calcium is the most important mineral involved in bone development. The calcium present in mineral water is an important source of calcium intake (12). It strengthens bones, teeth, and nails.
A study conducted by the Saxon Balneology and Rehabilitation Medicine Research Institute found that bioavailability of calcium from mineral water is comparable to (and could even be better) than from dairy products (13), (14). Another study conducted on postmenopausal women found that regular intake of calcium-rich mineral water increases the bone mineral density (15).
Furthermore, controlling magnesium homeostasis may help maintain bone integrity (16).
4. Improves Digestive Health
Mineral water contains magnesium sulfate and sodium sulfate that can help improve bowel movement frequency and stool consistency when constipated (17). A study conducted in Japan found that low magnesium intake is associated with constipation (18). Moreover, adequate fluid intake has been shown to improve digestion (19).
5. May Improve Heart Health
A study conducted on postmenopausal women by the Spanish Council for Scientific Research found that sodium bi-carbonate mineral water affects cholesterol and triacylglycerol metabolism after meals (20).
Another study conducted on postmenopausal women found that the intake of carbonated mineral water intake decreases total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol levels, which reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases (21). The magnesium levels in drinking water are also said to be inversely associated with coronary heart disease mortality (22).
However, more long-term studies are required to understand how drinking mineral water promotes heart health.
6. May Regulate Body Fat
Mineral water is an essential fat-free supplement that offers a good amount of fat metabolizing minerals. It helps in fat breakdown, which is essential in burning the layers of fat in the body. Thus, drinking mineral water before meals (1.5 l/day) along with a low-calorie diet can help in weight management (23).
Now that you know all about the health benefits of mineral water, let’s check out how it benefits your skin.
Is Mineral Water Good For Your Skin And Face?
Mineral water may be a fresh source of skin-friendly silica particles. Silica is great for the skin. It triggers the production of collagen in your skin. Increased collagen formation reduces wrinkles, dark spots, and dullness. Furthermore, silica deficiency leads to skin ageing (24). Hence, mineral water may be a good source of skin health.
However, more long-term studies are required to understand this benefit of mineral water.
Though mineral water is generally safe for consumption, it does have a few side effects that you need to keep in mind. Check them out in the next section.
What Are The Side Effects Of Mineral Water?
Mineral water is generally regarded as safe to drink. However, too much consumption of mineral water has some side effects, and very little research has been done in this area.
Many studies focused on bottled mineral water are about the migration of chemicals from plastic bottles to water (25). A study conducted on mice found that microplastics consumed through water can accumulate in the body and cause inflammation (26).
The carbonic acid present in carbonated mineral water can cause bloating (27). Mineral water contains fewer microbes when compared to normal tap water. Thus, it does not undergo the disinfection process (unlike tap water) and contains microbes. It is also sometimes enriched with carbon dioxide (28).
Microplastics are tiny particles with potential health concerns. Plastic bottles contain bisphenol A (BPA) that are said to interfere with the hormonal function in your body. These particles are also found in seafood products, beverages like beer, and table salt.
Though the microplastics in bottled water do not raise a safety concern, more research is required in this area (29).
Carbonated Water Damages Teeth
Sparkling mineral water can damage the enamel on your teeth. A study conducted by the University of Birmingham found that sparkling mineral water damages tooth enamel more than regular tap water but less than soft drinks (30).
Carbonated water is more acidic than regular tap water. A study conducted in Korea found that carbonated water manufactured by a soda carbonator reduces enamel hardness (31). But, it has a smaller impact on teeth than drinking soda (32).
Pollution caused by plastic water bottles is a serious threat to the environment. But, scientists have found that treating tap water with domestic reverse osmosis equipment is the most environmentally friendly way to treat water (33). As bottle manufacturing requires more energy and raw material inputs, especially in the case of glass water bottles, regular water treatment is the most favourable option.
Mineral water, by definition, is rich in minerals and said to possess several therapeutic properties. However, limited research is available to prove its benefits. It is still considered safe to drink.
From improving bone density to promoting digestive health, mineral water is said to have many health benefits. However, it is also associated with plastic toxicity (due to the microplastics in bottles) and enamel erosion. Therefore, use your discretion before you drink any type of water.