Water is no longer just water. Instead, if you look in the local store, you’ll find an array of different types of water, including regular bottled water, infused water, mineral water, soda water, spring water, carbonated water, artisan water, and still others.
These terms get confusing fast, especially as there’s overlap between them. Plus, are the differences between these types of water really that significant? Is one type better than another or are they all roughly the same?
We’ve been digging into the various types recently and today we’re focusing on mineral water. In particular, is mineral water good for you?
Mineral water certainly sounds healthy, as we need both water and minerals to function well. Still, the mineral content is hardly amazing, so health claims about the water could easily be overblown.
Is Mineral Water Good For Your Health?
- What Is Mineral Water?
- Types Of Mineral Water
- Benefits Of Mineral Water
- How Mineral Water Could Be Harmful
- Do The Minerals Actually Help You?
- Can You Make Cocktails With Mineral Water?
- Is Mineral Water Healthier Than Filtered Water?
- Final Thoughts
What Is Mineral Water?
The water that comes through our taps goes through many steps to make it safe to drink, including chemical disinfection in water treatment plants. Minerals are often added too, although the amount can vary depending on where you live.
While the goal is to produce safe water, contamination can still occur. Water safety standards also vary depending on where you live, making some sources of water healthier than others.
Mineral water, on the other hand, comes from mineral springs and underground reservoirs. The water is bottled at the source, so it never travels in pipes in the way that tap water does.
Because of where it is sourced, mineral water tends to be richer in natural minerals than tap water. In particular, mineral water must contain total dissolved solids of at least 250 parts per million (ppm). Some products contain much more than this.
Mineral water doesn’t go through as many chemical treatments either as tap water either, which is thought to make it healthier. In fact, to be defined as mineral water, the water must come from “a geologically and physically protected underground water source” and must be bottled as it is.
This means that companies can’t just take regular water and add minerals to it.
Types Of Mineral Water
The minerals in mineral water vary depending on where the water was sourced from. This is why the flavor can vary dramatically from one brand to the next.
Some mineral water is still, while other types are naturally carbonated instead. Both types offer the same benefits, and despite some claims, carbonated water isn’t bad for you at all. The level of carbonation varies as well.
Such differences mean you might need to try out a few different brands to work out your favorite products.
Benefits Of Mineral Water
It Keeps You Hydrated
The first benefit of mineral water is the most obvious one – hydration. This effect is true for any type of water, along with most drinks and water rich foods. Even so, hydration is worth talking about, as it’s incredibly important.
Think of it this way, water is used in every part of our body, performing more functions than we could possibly count. If you’re not getting enough water each day, some of the systems in your body don’t work as well as they should.
You don’t need to be dramatically dehydrated to see problems either. Even being slightly deficient leads to side effects like decreased energy, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating.
Many of us do end up slightly dehydrated, as it’s easy to forget to drink enough water during a busy day.
The minerals in mineral water might make it slightly more hydrating than regular water, but this isn’t guaranteed. Thankfully though, mineral water is at least as good as regular water. This is even true for sparkling mineral water.
It Hasn’t Been Chemically Processed
Much of the water we drink has been through chemical processing to purify it. Sometimes chemicals are added as well, like fluoride.
Mineral water hasn’t been through this process. Instead, the water comes from underground reservoirs and similar locations, and is bottled at the source. There’s less processing and less tampering all around, which can only be good for you.
It Tastes Good
Minerals in water add to its flavor, so mineral water ends up having a more interesting flavor than regular tap water. This is an important effect, as we tend to want drinks that taste good, which is partly why it’s easy to drink soda and fruit juice, but harder to drink water regularly.
Mineral water, particularly sparkling mineral water, is a good way around the problem. You get something that tastes delicious and is more interesting than regular water. This may be enough to get you drinking it more often, giving you all the benefits of hydration.
You’ll see many extra benefits too if you end up drinking mineral water instead of soda or other sugary drinks.
Offers Health Benefits
Mineral water does offer significant health benefits, such as helping with weight loss, decreasing your heart disease risk, preventing constipation, increasing your energy levels, and combating fatigue.
As you’ve probably guessed, most of those benefits are associated with the fact that you’re drinking water. That said, some studies have found health benefits from mineral water specifically.
Such benefits may be most common where the water provides some minerals that you’re not getting enough of currently. For example, one study found that mineral water helped to lower blood pressure in patients who had low levels of calcium. As such, people with limited mineral intake might see more benefits from the water than those of us who get plenty of minerals from our diets.
How Mineral Water Could Be Harmful
Can Be High In Sodium
By definition, mineral water naturally contains minerals. This means that it also contains sodium, sometimes a decent amount of it.
This could easily be an issue, as too much sodium can lead to a variety of health problems, including increased blood pressure and a higher risk of heart disease. Many of us already consume more sodium than we should be, due to processed foods and an over-reliance on salt for seasoning.
Getting sodium in your water as well just makes everything worse.
Now, if you’re just having a glass of mineral water every so often, the sodium shouldn’t matter all that much. The biggest issue is when you’re using mineral water as your main source of water and drinking multiple glasses of it per day. In that situation, the sodium would start to add up quickly.
Sparkling Mineral Water May Cause Gas
Sparkling water is fine for many people. It may even help with your digestion. However, this isn’t always the case.
Some people find that sparkling water causes side effects instead, including significant gas and bloating. Such side effects can easily be uncomfortable or even painful, particularly if you have a digestive condition or experience reflux often.
If you are sensitive, you might need to focus on still mineral water rather than the sparkling kind.
The Water Often Comes In Plastic Bottles
There’s also a packaging issue to think about. Mineral water is often sold in plastic bottles, which are typically made from either polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or bisphenol A (BPA). PET is concerning, as it can be an endocrine disruptor, while BPA has been linked to a host of problems as well.
Some compounds from the plastic bottle may leach into your drinking water, which could lead to health problems further down the line.
To get around this, it’s best to buy mineral water in glass bottles, rather than plastic ones. If you can’t do this, try not to store plastic bottles in high temperature environments, as increased temperature may increase the amount of leaching.
Bottled water also contains some microplastic debris, which could influence your health as well. Besides, even if the effect is minimal, who wants to drink plastic?
Don’t forget that bottled water is also incredibly bad for the environment. Seriously. We’re buying and throwing away plastic bottles at an alarming rate. While mineral water seems like a natural product, it’s still contributing to this same environmental crisis.
Mineral Water Isn’t Cheap
Mineral water costs more than simply drinking water from the tap, a cost difference that can become substantial if you’re drinking a decent amount of water every day.
The price could indirectly impact your health too, if you start buying mineral water instead of other healthy foods.
Do The Minerals Actually Help You?
The minerals are what make mineral water so special. These certainly add to the flavor of the water, making it much more interesting. It’s easy to assume that the minerals matter for your health too, given that minerals play so many roles in our bodies.
In practice though, the water generally contains incredibly small amounts of minerals, too small to have much impact at all. After all, the official requirement is at least 250 parts per million. Per million. It doesn’t take a high mineral concentration to hit that target.
Most of the time then, mineral water certainly isn’t enough to prevent any mineral deficiencies. And honestly, if your mineral intake is so low that a product like mineral water is likely to make a difference, then your diet has some serious issues.
That said, the mineral content does vary dramatically and some mineral waters are rich in particular minerals.
If you paired the right mineral rich water with the right need, then yes, you might see benefits. For example, a sodium rich mineral water would be useful for people who exercise intensely, while one that is iron rich might slightly decrease the risk of iron deficiency.
Can You Make Cocktails With Mineral Water?
Sparkling water and club soda are often used as cocktail ingredients. They’re fantastic ways to add bubbles to your drink and dilute it somewhat, without changing the flavor much at all.
What could be better when you want a refreshing summer cocktail?
Mineral water doesn’t work as well, as the flavor is too strong and will clash with many cocktail ingredients. That said, you can make some pretty amazing drinks by combining wine and mineral water. This basically gives you a spritzer, where the extra flavor from the mineral water complements the wine well.
Is Mineral Water Healthier Than Filtered Water?
Mineral water sounds like the healthiest choice, as it is natural and contains minerals. Filtered water, on the other hand, often goes through considerable chemical processing steps and is then filtered.
However, filtered water has some considerable advantages that are worth mentioning.
For one thing, many filters don’t strip out minerals, so you still get most of the minerals from tap water. Alternatively, you can find water that has been purified and remineralized. While this approach isn’t as natural as mineral water, you’re still getting trace minerals, which is the most important thing.
And, critically, you can skip the bottled part of the equation entirely by buying a water filter for your home. Doing this provides you with contaminant-free water on demand and means there’s no risk of chemicals from bottles leaching into your water.
Mineral water is a very healthy drink, but most of the benefits come from the fact you’re drinking water and little else. There are no added sugars or artificial ingredients to worry about, and the processing is minimal.
Plus, the flavor of mineral water makes it more interesting than regular water. This effect alone is powerful for anyone who struggles to drink water on its own.
Still… mineral water doesn’t stand out that much. You’ll get the same hydration benefits from filtered water, alkaline water, and even regular tap water. Which is best really comes down to which type you like the most.