The Risks of Purified Water: Mineral Deficiencies

by Dr. David Minkoff June 18, 2020 3 min read

The Risks of Purified Water: Mineral Deficiencies

Understanding Types of Water and the Effects of “Purified” Water

Sometimes it feels like there are more types and brands of water than drops in the ocean. You go to the grocery store and discover a huge shelf packed with different brands of water that all claim to be health-beneficial. Add in the hundreds of in-house water purifiers, and it can seem like a “sea” of confusing options (cue the pun).

Thankfully, your choice doesn’t have to be that complicated.

Most drinking water comes from natural sources and may have been enhanced with mineral content, including:

  • Spring water
  • Glacier water
  • Sparkling water
  • Alkaline water
  • Well water
  • Tap water

Out of the above sources, your safest bet is always bottled, processed water – simply because you can be confident that it is free from contaminants. Tap water and well water are also safe and healthy options in many places around the world, as the natural sources are contaminant-free. In-house filtration systems can also be effective at making tap water safer to drink.

In essence, there are two things each type of good drinking water have in common:

  1. They are free from contaminants and disease-causing bacteria
  2. They contain the basic electrolytes and minerals your body needs for optimum utilization

The variances are in the form of taste, source, and concentration of beneficial solids in the water.

[1]

What Happens When Water is Overpurified

We purify water for two distinct reasons:

  • To make it safe for human consumption, and
  • To make it safe for machinery and equipment.

Unlike the human body, machines and equipment do not need water with mineral content. It is much safer and better to use water that has been highly purified – such as distilled water – as it doesn’t leave mineral deposits behind.

And herein lies the problem: It has become increasingly popular to promote super-purified water as healthy for the human body.

Reverse-osmosis machines (machines that push water at high pressure through a special filter to eliminate 95-99% of solids), as one example, are being sold for homes to purify the tap water and make it drinkable. The problem, again, is in the missing mineral content.

Sodium, magnesium, potassium, and calcium are four of the essential electrolytes that your body requires to:

  • Control and regulate the balance of fluids in your body
  • Regulate blood pressure
  • Achieve proper muscle contraction (including the contraction of your heart)
  • Regulate the PH level of your blood

[2]

When you drink water that is devoid of these minerals, your body has to pull the minerals from other parts of your body. For this reason, over-purified water is known to create mineral deficiencies and can result in significant adverse physiological reactions.

In one famous study from the WHO, two countries had a national rollout of reverse-osmosis water, and within three months the population began suffering from:

  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Muscular cramps
  • Impaired heart rate
  • Increased fluid loss

Furthermore, long-term studies of individuals and families who drink mineral-free water on a routine basis discovered:

  • An increase in cardiovascular disease
  • A higher risk of bone fractures in children
  • Increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases
  • Pre-term birth and low weight at birth
  • Heightened risk of several types of cancer

[3]

The undeniable fact is that water is a critical source of minerals, and routinely drinking mineral-free water not only cuts an available source of healthy water but can also drain the minerals from your body.

Cooking with Distilled or Reverse-Osmosis Water

Pure water will naturally and aggressively absorb minerals it contacts, which makes it a poor choice for cooking. Tests have demonstrated that cooking veggies and other mineral-rich foods in distilled or RO water can cause a loss of up to 70% of the mineral content in your food.

[4]

The Solution to Mineral-Deficient Water

Drinking the occasional RO or distilled water will not kill you, and you probably won’t suffer any symptoms. The problem enters when you have it regularly over several months.

In some cases, however, RO water might be the best and most effective option – such as in areas with highly polluted tap water and low availability (or high cost) of bottled drinking water.

In these and all cases, the key to remember is that your body needs the minerals. Drinking RO water as a stable part of your diet can be a viable option – but only so long as you supplement the lost minerals through a diet rich in natural mineral content, or by taking a dietary supplement.

So, when you are considering which water to buy and any kind of in-house filtration – just remember to keep the minerals in one way or another and stay deficiency-free!

References:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/nine-types-of-drinking-water#the-bottom-line
  2. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002350.htm
  3. https://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/nutrientschap12.pdf
  4. https://www.cooksinfo.com/distilled-water