Mineral Water: Benefits, Nutrition, and Risks
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Mineral Water: Benefits, Nutrition, and Risks

Jun 01, 2023

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Mineral water comes from underground sources and naturally contains minerals and trace elements like calcium, magnesium, sodium, bicarbonate, sulfate, chloride, and fluoride. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, water is only considered mineral water if it contains at least 250 parts per million (ppm) total dissolved solids—which include naturally occurring minerals. Unlike tap and bottled water, mineral water cannot contain added minerals.

Sparkling mineral water is artificially or naturally carbonated—meaning the water contains enough carbon dioxide to make the water fizzy. Mineral water is also labeled "low mineral content" if it has less than 500 ppm total dissolved solids or "high mineral content" if it has more than 1,500 ppm total dissolved solids. Because the body can easily absorb magnesium and calcium from mineral water, the beverage can be a healthy way to hydrate and get the heart, bone, and digestive benefits of these essential minerals.

Minerals come from the earth and are essential nutrients your body must get from food. Mineral water contains significant levels of minerals like calcium, sodium, and magnesium and can help you effectively supplement these nutrients.

Mineral water is also a very bioavailable source of minerals—meaning the body can absorb large amounts of minerals after someone drinks mineral water. When minerals and elements—like calcium and bicarbonate—come into contact with water, they become ionic. This is significant to bioavailability because the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is better at absorbing minerals in their ionic form.

Calcium is an essential mineral that strengthens your bones. Research shows the body can absorb calcium from drinking calcium-rich mineral water just as efficiently as taking calcium supplements or consuming calcium-rich dairy products.

Mineral water is rich in magnesium, so it may strengthen bones because magnesium helps your bones absorb calcium. A large study found postmenopausal women with higher magnesium intakes (not from drinking mineral water, per se) were less likely to experience fractures and decreased bone mineral density related to osteoporosis. This bone disease reduces bone strength and increases your risk of fractures. Still, we need more research on mineral water and how it affects postmenopausal bone loss.

Drinking water, in general, is necessary for good blood flow. Minerals found in mineral water—like calcium, magnesium, and potassium—also help blood circulation. In addition, calcium helps regulate heart rate, and magnesium helps lower blood pressure. Studies show that regularly drinking mineral water with these minerals may improve risk factors that increase your risk of coronary heart disease. This type of heart disease is caused by blocked coronary arteries and affects the blood supply to your heart.

A 2019 review found drinking mineral water daily helped improve participants' HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglyceride levels (fat found in blood). HDL cholesterol is called the "good" cholesterol, and high HDL levels help your body manage cholesterol in your blood to avoid plaque buildup in your arteries. Plaque is caused by high triglycerides and LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol—known as the "bad" cholesterol. Studies that included postmenopausal women also found drinking mineral water helped lower LDL cholesterol levels.

However, we need more controlled research to prove how drinking mineral water affects heart health. These studies featured small sample sizes and often included dietary changes that could have helped improve levels. Some studies also found mineral water had no effect on blood pressure.

Thanks to its magnesium content, mineral water may help get things moving if you're backed up. Magnesium is a mineral known to help improve bowel movements by relaxing intestinal muscles and drawing water into your bowels. This softens stools and makes it easier to poop.

A study of 106 participants dealing with constipation found drinking magnesium sulfate and sodium sulfate-rich mineral water helped improve bowel movements after six weeks. Participants who drank 17 ounces of mineral water daily experienced more bowel movements and improved their stool consistency.

However, it's worth noting that drinking enough fluids, in general, helps improve bowel movements. Someone who drinks a lot of mineral water may be hydrated enough to keep them regular.

Mineral water is similar to regular water and contains no calories. The amount of minerals in mineral water varies between different brands. Mineral water labeled "low" or "high" mineral content will also give you lower or higher amounts of minerals. Some mineral waters are also low in sodium.

Drinking 8 fluid ounces of mineral water contains the following nutrients:

You'll likely drink more than one cup of mineral water at a time since mineral water is often sold in 1-liter bottles. That means if you drink an entire liter of mineral water, you'll get nearly four times the above mineral amounts.

Mineral water can be a good source of essential minerals like calcium and magnesium compared to regular water. However, because some mineral water can be high in sodium, people who need a low-sodium diet may want to avoid or limit mineral water.

Drinking mineral water is safe for most people. However, people following a low-sodium diet should avoid mineral water with high sodium levels. Drinking sparkling mineral water may also damage tooth enamel since it's naturally more acidic than still water. However, studies show sparkling mineral water only damages tooth enamel slightly more than tap water.

Like other bottled waters, mineral water must pass safety parameters so it doesn't contain harmful contaminants or chemicals. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that mineral water has a higher chance of containing Cryptosporidium (Crypto) parasites if it comes from unprotected springs or water sources. This parasite can cause watery diarrhea, stomach pain, vomiting, fever, and dehydration.

Mineral water bottled in plastic bottles may also contain microplastic—microscopic pieces of plastic that can enter the body and environment. While the risks of microplastics are not fully understood, some researchers believe microplastics may cause cell-damaging oxidative stress, hormone disruption, and cancer.

You can find still or sparkling mineral water at grocery stores and supermarkets. You can either store it in the refrigerator or at room temperature. Just make sure you keep mineral water out of direct sunlight. Depending on the mineral content, mineral water often tastes salty or bitter. For those reasons, some people don't enjoy the taste of mineral water and find it difficult to drink.

If you'd like to incorporate more mineral water into your diet, here's how to make the drink more palatable:

Because of its mineral content, mineral water can be a healthy source of essential minerals like calcium and magnesium. Mineral water is also different than spring water because it must come from aquifers, underground reservoirs, or springs that naturally contain the FDA-determined mineral threshold. The exact mineral content of mineral water varies depending on where it was sourced.

However, studies show mineral water may offer enough magnesium and calcium to help improve heart, bone, and digestive health. Some mineral water can contain high sodium levels, so always check the nutrition labels if you need to follow a low-sodium diet.

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Calories: Fat:CarbohydratesFiber:Sugar:Protein: Calcium: Magnesium: Sodium: Add natural flavor:Make mineral water ice cubes: Use mineral water in recipes: