You know you need to drink plenty of water to stay healthy and hydrated. Is filling your glass from the tap good enough? Or is it better to drink mineral water?
A lot of people like mineral water for its crisp and refreshing taste. Unlike tap water, it’s not treated or processed. It comes from natural springs or wells and contains (you guessed it) minerals like calcium, magnesium and potassium.
Do those minerals make it a better choice for your health? Or is mineral water just a pricey option?
Elise Heeney, a clinical dietitian with Banner Health, explained more about the possible benefits of drinking mineral water.
The minerals you find in mineral water
Many minerals are important nutrients your body needs. Mineral water travels through layers of rock and soil, picking up minerals along the way.
Because different mineral waters come from different locations, they can contain different types of minerals in higher or lower amounts. You might like the taste of one mineral water over another, based on its mineral content.
You might also prefer sparkling mineral water over still, or vice versa. “Keep in mind that carbonated water is more acidic than tap water and may damage your teeth,” Heeney said.
The top minerals you usually find in mineral water are:
- Calcium: Calcium helps your bones stay strong and healthy. It can help prevent osteoporosis and plays a role in blood clotting and muscle function.
- Magnesium: Magnesium helps your muscles and nerves function properly. It helps prevent cramps, regulates your blood pressure and blood sugar levels and plays a role in the structure of your bones and teeth. It can also support your metabolism.
- Potassium: Potassium helps your heart and muscles work properly, balances the fluids in your body, plays a role in blood pressure regulation and helps your nerves communicate. It can also help keep your skin healthy.
The bicarbonate found in mineral water is not a mineral, but it can help regulate the acid levels in your stomach and it might aid in digestion, especially after meals.
While you may enjoy drinking mineral water, don’t count on it to meet your needs for these important nutrients.
“Most mineral waters have low amounts of minerals. For example, one bottle of mineral water may contain 70 milligrams of calcium, and most adults need at least 1,000 milligrams daily. That’s only 7% of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for calcium,” Heeney said.
“You can use mineral water in combination with a healthy diet to enhance your mineral intake, but it won’t provide enough minerals to meet the recommended intakes.”
The best way to get the minerals you need is to eat a balanced diet with a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, low-fat dairy and lean proteins. The amount you need depends on your age, sex and health. Here are some general guidelines for adults:
- Calcium: 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams per day
- Magnesium: 310 to 420 milligrams per day
- Potassium: 2,600 to 3,400 milligrams per day
“Drinking mineral water can help improve these mineral levels, but more research is needed to determine the effects of mineral water on health,” Heeney said.
Mineral water and hydration
When it comes to hydration, mineral water may have an advantage over tap water or plain bottled water. “Mineral water is a healthy way to stay hydrated. It is higher in electrolytes than tap water and can help replace lost electrolytes,” Heeney says.
When you sweat or lose fluid, you also lose electrolytes like sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, phosphate and bicarbonate. If you don’t replace those electrolytes, you may have muscle cramps, fatigue or dehydration.
Tap water contains lower amounts of these electrolytes than mineral water, so it can’t help you replace electrolytes as well as mineral water can. You might want to have mineral water after you exercise or if you’re low in fluids.
What to watch for
While mineral water can generally be a good option, you’ll want to be careful if you’re watching your sodium or potassium intake. “You may need to avoid mineral waters for this reason,” Heeney said.
- Mineral water can be high in sodium, so if you need to limit sodium due to high blood pressure, heart conditions or other health issues you may want to check the label for lower-sodium versions.
- If you have certain kidney conditions and you need to limit potassium, you might need to avoid mineral waters that have high potassium levels.
- If you need to limit fluids because of heart or kidney issues, you’ll want to monitor how much liquid you take in from all sources, including mineral water.
If you’re making changes to the amount or type of water or fluids you drink, especially if you have health conditions, talk to your health care provider. They can help you find the right level of mineral water to meet your needs, whether you’re trying to maximize hydration or meet other health goals.
Choosing a type of mineral water
You can get a lot of information about mineral water from the label:
- See which minerals the water contains and what amounts if you’re looking for specific minerals or nutrients. For example, you might want higher levels of calcium or bicarbonate.
- Check sodium and potassium levels if you need to watch them.
- Look for the source of the water if you want mineral water known for certain natural springs or wells.
The bottom line
Mineral water can be a flavorful alternative to plain water. It’s a good option for hydration and it can add to your mineral intake. But don’t count on it to give you the amount of minerals you need — turn to a balanced diet for that. You may need to limit the amount of mineral water you drink if you are watching your sodium or potassium levels.
To find out more about how to include mineral water in your diet, talk to your health care provider or reach out to an expert at Banner Health. They can come up with recommendations based on your goals and health needs.