Mineral Water- A Healthy Twist | Classification & Health Benefits

Mineral water is obtained from underground resources and hence it is naturally rich in mineral content such as calcium, magnesium, and manganese. Mineral water cannot be subjected to any further treatment nor extra minerals can be added into it. But in packaged drinking water, carbonation or removal of iron can be done. Depending on its source and type of element present, mineral water has various health benefits:

Mineral Water- Composition, Classification & Health Effects

Composed of the chemical elements oxygen and hydrogen, water is the most essential element in our planet Earth. Starting from microscopic bacteria to humongous whales, every living being needs water to survive.

Though life is quite resilient, there are few places in the earth that do not support life, such as the Atacama Desert in Chile and Dallol in Ethiopia; the sole reason being the lack of water. Life is found to exist in the harshest of climates, be it the freezing temperatures of the Antarctic or the extremely salty Dead Sea, due to the one crucial element-water!

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Criteria For Being Classified As Mineral Water

A study regarding the composition of mineral water found that it consists of a combination of cations (Ca2+, Na2+, K+, Mg2+), anions (Cl, HCO3-, SO42-) and specific compounds. But the composition is not the only determining factor. Below are some of the criteria that need to be fulfilled to be categorized as mineral water:

  • It is obtained from underground resources, that has either natural or artificial source and is protected from any kind of contamination.
  • It has physiological and nutritional effects that are based on its mineral content.
  • It is originally pure and should not undergo any treatments.
  • Within defined limits, its temperature, mineral content, etc. remain constant.

Mineral Water- Composition, Classification & Health Effects

Composition Of Mineral Water

Since it is obtained from underground natural sources, it contains several minerals. Some of these minerals might be harmful to health, so they need to be removed before consumption. However, there is a permissible limit for every mineral which has to be followed, according to the rules and guidelines.

The table below shows the composition and the permissible limit of the various minerals present in mineral water.

Substance(calculated as) Limit (mg l−1)
Arsenic(As) 0.05/0.005a
Cadmium(Cd) 0.005
Chromium, total(Cr) 0.05
Mercury(Hg) 0.001
Nickel(Ni) 0.05
Lead(Pb) 0.05
Antimony(Sb) 0.01
Selenium, total(Se) 0.01
Borate(BO) 30
Barium(Ba) 1
Sodium(Na) 20a
Nitrate(NO3) 10a
Nitrite(NO2) 0.02a
Sulfate(SO4) 240a
Fluoride(F) 0.7a
Manganese(Mn) 0.05a

Source And Classification Of Mineral Water:

The fact that makes it natural and pure is its source of origin. The sources include an underground reservoir, aquifer, spring, or any other natural source.

It has a varied composition of minerals and it depends on its origin. Researchers have classified mineral water into various types based on its mineral content and its effect on human health. The classification on the basis of its properties is given below.

Mineral Water- Composition, Classification & Health Effects

Bicarbonate Mineral Water:

  • This type of water is cold and alkaline and has low mineral content.
  • Studies have shown that it possesses diuretic properties and is good for the digestive tract.
  • Many other health benefits include: helps in decreasing the cholesterol levels and thereby preventing cardiovascular diseases; helps in decreasing bone resorption.

Chloride Mineral Water:

  • The dominating anion is the chloride ion along with cations of magnesium, sodium, and calcium.
  • Studies show that chloride mineral water helps in stimulating the intestine which in turn secretes electrolytes and water. It also helps in increasing biliary secretions which helps in bile inflow into the duodenum.
  • When used in combination with sodium, it shows its effect in gastric emptying and is used for hydroponics therapy; whereas when used in combination with sodium, iodine, and bromine it can be used to treat gastrointestinal diseases due to its anti-inflammatory activity.

Sulphate Mineral Water:

  • It contains sulphate anion along with specific cations.
  • Magnesium sulphate and sodium sulphate water help indigestion.
  • Sulphate ion plays an important role in cellular, metabolic, and foetal growth and hence it is a good diet choice for pregnant women.

Calcic Mineral Water:

  • Calcium is an element that is essential for bone development. But studies have shown that the intake of calcium-rich water not only helps in skeletal growth but is also beneficial for blood, muscle, and nervous system.
  • The main anions present in it i.e., Sulphate and bicarbonate anions help in maintaining the acid-base balance of the body.
  • Some studies have also shown that this type of water can be considered equivalent to dairy products.

Magnesiac Mineral Water:

  • The main component being magnesium, it can also be combined with other ions such as sulfate to promote health benefits.
  • Magnesium-rich water may be useful in gynecologic pathology such as postmenopausal osteoporosis, pre-menstrual syndrome.
  • When combined with sulfate and calcium, it is observed that the functional disorders of the biliary tract have reduced.
  • Recent studies have shown that high magnesium levels in water might also reduce the risk of Coronary Heart Disease (CHD).

Fluorurate Mineral Water:

  • Fluorine is an essential element for maintaining bone health. Low fluorine content in water can prevent dental decay and promote bone mineralization in children.
  • Some researchers link high fluorine content to cancer risk, though studies show it has no direct carcinogenic effect.
  • Fluoride intake >10mg/l may result in toxic effects such as dental and skeletal fluorosis. The confirmed upper limit is 1.5mg/l.

Ferrous Mineral Water:

  • Water containing the ferrous ion is found in two combinations: sulphate ferrous water and bicarbonate ferrous water.
  • Sulfate ferrous waters should be avoided as they are very concentrated and also contain arsenic, which is very harmful to health.
  • Bicarbonate ferrous water possesses a good pH balance and exhibits haemopoietic properties and is efficient in the treatment of anaemia.

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Bottling:

Unlike other types of water, mineral water is bottled at its source i.e., from a spring, an aquifer, etc. According to the Food and Drug Administration, there should be at least 250 ppm of dissolved solids or minerals in the water at its source. Though no addition of minerals is permitted during its bottling, the water is allowed to undergo treatment for the removal of toxic elements such as arsenic. Removal or addition of CO2 is also allowed.

Many people prefer drinking mineral water over normal water, due to the health benefits offered by it. As it contains various elements such as calcium, sodium, magnesium, etc. depending on its source, the health effects also vary depending upon its source. Though it contributes to various health benefits, it is also believed to cause some negative impacts on health.

Positive Health Effects Of Mineral Water: Health Benefits

Depending on its source and type of element present, mineral water contributes to the following health benefits:

  • Regulates the function of nerves, controls blood glucose level and blood pressure.
  • It helps in maintaining electrolyte balance in the body.
  • It helps to lower hypertension.
  • Promotes bone health and maintains bone integrity.
  • It helps to improve digestive health by maintaining bowel movements.
  • May help in balancing cholesterol levels.
  • May help in body fat reduction.
  • Triggers collagen formation and helps to promote skin.

Negative Health Impact:

Some studies have shown that it may also lead to some negative health effects. Some of them are listed:

  • Plastic bottles containing bisphenol A (BPA) are found to cause plastic toxicity leading to hormonal imbalance.
  • Carbonated water can cause bloating and can also damage the enamel.

Differences Between Mineral Water And Packaged Drinking Water:

Mineral water is the most natural form of water available as it is directly bottled from its source. Packaged drinking water is the water obtained from various sources such as spring, well, etc that undergoes filtration and distillation process to ensure its safety in drinking and has other health benefits.

The major differences that are observed between the two are stated as follows:

Taste

  • The minerals present in the mineral water provides a very natural and pure taste to the water
  • Packaged drinking water has its taste varied according to the source, mineral content, purification, and distillation process employed.

Filtration and Treatment:

  • Mineral water has its natural process of filtration and it might be subjected to treatment to remove toxic elements.
  • Packaged drinking water undergoes filtration, sedimentation, distillation, and various chemical treatments such as chlorination to ensure its safety.

Cost:

  • The cost of packaged drinking water is generally higher as it undergoes various treatment processes. However, the cost might vary depending on the source, brand, and mineral content of the water.

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