The human body is completely dependent on both water and minerals. The body is about 60-75% water, making water vitally important for nearly every bodily function. Clearly, your body cannot operate without water and the quality of the water you consume can have a dramatic impact on your health.
Should I Drink Tap Water?
Drinking water (aka municipal water or community drinking water) directly from the tap can have negative health implications, regardless of how clean the city claims it to be. Even if municipal water is filtered, it may still contain toxic chemicals and the pipes can also be contaminants. Piping is made of plastic, metal and even lead. As the pipes corrode, clean water flowing through them can become contaminated with rust. Over time the pipes can rupture, causing not only water loss, but also the introduction of pollutants and diseases from the ground. If you filter water and then put it into a dirty pipe, you still have contaminated water.
Municipal drinking water can pose a danger to your health because it may contain some levels of heavy metals and toxins including:
Your drinking water is also likely laced with a wide variety of pharmaceuticals and hormonally active chemicals. The 11 most frequently detected compounds are:
- Atenolol: a beta-blocker used to treat cardiovascular disease
- Atrazine: an organic herbicide banned in the EU which has been implicated in the decline of fish stocks and in changes in animal behavior
- Carbamazepine: a mood-stabilizing drug used to treat bipolar disorder
- Estrone: an estrogen hormone secreted by the ovaries and blamed for causing gender changes in fish
- Gemfibrozil: an anti-cholesterol drug
- Meprobamate: a tranquilizer used in psychiatric treatment
- Naproxen: a painkiller and anti-inflammatory linked to increases in asthma incidence
- Phenytoin: an anticonvulsant used to treat epilepsy
- Sulfamethoxazole: an antibiotic
- TCEP: a reducing agent used in molecular biology
- Trimethoprim: an antibiotic
Your municipal water may also be infected with:
- DBP's (disinfection by-products)
- Industrial chemicals
- Bacteria, cysts and parasites
The safest way to ensure your water does not contain DBPs and various pharmaceutical agents is to filter your own water, at home, using a reverse osmosis filter. Filtering your water is crucial for protecting your health.
Should I Drink Bottled Water?
The average American consumes 35 gallons or the equivalent of 270 bottles of water a year. In 2014, $13 billion worth of bottled water was sold in the United States.
If you are drinking bottled water because you think that it is healthier, safer or more pure than tap, municipal or community water, you are probably not getting your money's worth. Even though bottled water can cost over 1000 times as much as tap water, somewhere between 25- 40% of the bottled water sold in the US comes straight out of a tap which may or may not have received any additional treatment. For example, the wildly popular Aquafina (owned by Pepsi) is municipal tap water, which is then processed. Contrary to public belief, bottled water is not always purer than tap water. As it turns out, most municipal tap water must adhere to stricter purity standards than the bottled water industry. In the US, tap water and bottled water are regulated by two different agencies. The EPA regulates tap water- bottled water is regulated by the FDA. The EPA requires large public water suppliers to test for contaminants as often as several times a day, but the FDA requires private bottlers to test for contaminants only once a week, once a year, or once every four years, depending on the contaminant.
How Do I Know the Source of My Bottled Water?
The FDA requires bottlers to identify what type of water is in every bottle. If the label says "from a community water system" or "from a municipal source" or something similar, you are buying the equivalent of tap water.
The bottler might treat municipal or community water so that it meets the government's definition of "purified water," "demineralized water," "deionized water," "distilled water," or "reverse osmosis water." It can then be labeled with those names.
There may be times when bottled water is your only option. If that is the case, by all means, buy one. However, if you are drinking bottled water on a regular basis, there are some things you want to know about the bottled water you are purchasing including:
- Where does the water come from?
- Is it purified, and if so, how?
- Is the water tested, and what, if any, contaminants have been found?
Unfortunately, the answers to these basic questions can be hard to come by. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), nine out of the top 10 best-selling brands fail to provide answers to all three questions. Only one of the 173 bottled water products they surveyed actually discloses this information right on the label and provides information for requesting a water quality test report. In fact, only 18 percent of bottled waters actually tell you where their water comes from, and 32 percent do not disclose anything about the treatment or the purity of the water.
There’s another issue with bottled water. If you are drinking from plastic bottles, you are doing a huge disservice to your health because drinking from plastic water bottles poses a major health risk. The plastic often used to make water bottles contains a variety of harmful chemicals that can easily leach out and contaminate the water, such as:
When plastic is heated, the exposure is magnified, so if you leave your water bottle in a hot car, or reuse it, heat and stress increase the amount of chemicals that leach out of the plastic. From a health perspective, plastic is not a wise choice- not to mention the extreme amounts of toxic waste produced and the devastating affects plastic water bottles have on our oceans and the rest of our planet. I highly recommend investing in reusable glass water bottles, filling them with filtered water and keeping one handy at all times.
- PFOA's- Cancer-causing chemicals
- PBDE's- flame retardant chemicals which have been linked to reproductive problems and altered thyroid levels
- Phthalates- reproductive toxins
- BPA- an endocrine disruptor
Should I Drink Mineral Water?
Although expensive, mineral water is a good option for supplementing minerals. The mineral content varies greatly amongst brands. For example, Gerolsteiner is ranked highest in magnesium and calcium and San Pellegrino is ranked highest in sulfate.
Compared to other mineral water brands, Gerolsteiner Sparkling Natural Mineral Water ranks amongst the highest in both magnesium and calcium content. In fact, Gerolsteiner has about twice as much calcium and magnesium as San Pellegrino. Magnesium plays an important role in heart and bone health. It also plays a role in your body's detoxification processes, making it important for helping to prevent damage from environmental chemicals, heavy metals, and other toxins. Magnesium can also help improve symptoms of bowel disease, migraines and chronic inflammation.
San Pellegrino has some of the highest levels of sulfate water known in the world today: 459 milligrams per liter. It also has a decent amount of calcium, magnesium, and bicarbonate as well as other trace minerals. The benefits of getting more sulfates include supporting joint, muscle, and nervous system health and detoxifying the body.
Another benefit of drinking mineral water is that it often comes in glass bottles, to avoid BPA (remember not to drink from cans or plastic bottles if you can avoid them).
- Drink plenty of plain filtered water
- Filter your water at home using reverse osmosis
- Avoid plastic water bottles except during an emergency
- Carry a glass water bottle filled with filtered water instead of plastic
- Request a water quality report from your local water purveyor at least once a year (some water companies include this report with the water bill annually)
- Supplement with mineral water on occasion
References and Sources:
The best under counter water filtration systems :
Jennifer Lima is the Founder of Energeia Fitness in Los Gatos, California . She is a NASM certified personal trainer and nutrition fitness specialist. When she isn’t coercing her clients into doing ridiculously effective exercises, she enjoys kayaking, rock climbing and watching Star Wars in plank position.