Minerals in Water – How Important Are They?

There’s an authentic debate among wellness professionals about the type of water that is healthiest to drink. Some advocate water that has naturally occurring minerals. Others suggest drinking low temperature distilled water.  The unique aspects of your water will determine the type of water filtration you need. Physical characteristics and contamination present in drinking water vary widely. This article will help you weigh the importance of minerals in your water, in contrast to the information contained in your local water quality report.

The issue of minerals in water is complex.  The scientific principle of osmosis is that water will move from an area of lower (solute) concentration to an area of higher (solute) concentration.1  In other words, water that is void of minerals is more hydrating because it will more readily cross the cell membranes in your body.2

You may have heard that distilled water and water produced by reverse osmosis are ‘dead,’ due to the intensity of the processing and the lack of minerals.  However, measuring the energy of reverse osmosis water disputes this argument.3 The notion of ‘dead’ water is a misnomer that you should disregard. 

Water has been demonstrated to have a healthy condition, and it may be true that water’s memory is affected by transport in pipes and by filtration.4  Another objection to drinking either distilled or RO water is that both will be acidic. This is easily countered with the addition of a filter to raise pH.

Some wellness professionals advise drinking spring water. Spring water has minerals and is thought to be naturally vibrant – if it has not been conveyed in a pipe.5 Mineral content is beneficial as shown by a number of independent studies funded by the World Health Organization. These studies indicate that people who drink water containing minerals suffer lower rates of heart disease than people who drink water lacking minerals.6

Spring waters can vary widely in water quality and mineral content. Mineral content is measured as total dissolved solids (tds).  EPA suggests an upper limit for tds of 500 ppm for drinking water. This is because high mineral content prevents water from being hydrating.

What does this mean for you?  It means that lower tds water is more hydrating, and that minerals in water are a benefit. Minerals should be present in relatively low amounts, however, far less than EPA’s limit of 500 ppm.

Other considerations are just as important as minerals. For instance the presence of contaminants in your water may have serious health effects. When looking at your water report there is a section which identifies your specific water source. If your water source is a river, and there are cities upstream of your location, then your water will contain a dangerous mix of contaminants.

Recent studies show that the water provided to 43 million Americans contains pharmaceuticals such as hormones, pain killers, and other drugs.7  Even trace amounts of these chemicals can have serious health effects.8  The only treatment proven effective at removal of these contaminants is reverse osmosis.9  Therefore a review of the water source and contaminants in your water quality report will lead you to determine which type of water filtration system will be effective in removing the contaminants present in your water.  In many cases these factors will far outweigh the benefit of mineral content.

To read the citations listed above see: http://www.cleanairpurewater.com/minerals_in_water.html


Further thoughts…. June 6, 2011

The issue of minerals in water is complex.  Advocates of drinking spring water, including myself, suggest that we get important minerals from water. I tend to agree but a recent test on myself leads to some odd results.

The chart below shows the results of a water test from the water I drink in the left column. That source is a local spring.  Every item listed was tested.  If the water source number is blank then it was not detected.

The right column shows the results of a hair analysis performed by Doctor’s Data lab in collaboration with Science Formulas. I am collaborating with the latter.

other characteristics of my water:

pH                                  7.4

hardness                        200 ppm

total dissolve solids      190 -240 ppm

Nitrate                            .9 PPM

My observations:

1) I’m acquiring metals which are not in my water, except for the uranium, which is.

2) The calcium and magnesium in my hair are high.  Is this from drinking water with minerals?  I do not know what other source could be providing that much calcium.

3) Look at potassium. My water has a lot of it yet my hair is low.

4) My water contains sodium of 200 ppm yet my hair is normal.

5) I am deficient in a number of minerals – in spite of a good diet and drinking spring water.

6) The other thing I think you can say is that the body requires a wide array of minerals which are generally not found in water.

What does this say to you?

Next Actions:

I’m going to supplement the specific minerals I am missing and will report back on my findings in six months or a year.


What this is saying to me is that for the same reasons you can’t know what water purification system to use without testing your water, you can’t know what supplements to take without testing your body.

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About James McMahon

Studied ecology at the University of Illinois, mountain survival at Eastern Washing University, Deep Ecology at Naropa, River Ecology with The Nature Conservancy and Luna Leopold
This entry was posted in Healthy Drinking Water, Minerals in water, Water Purification. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Minerals in Water – How Important Are They?

  1. John says:

    Are the minerals detected in your hair organic (natural) or inorganic ?

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