Is Mineral Water Healthy?
With companies jumping on the sparkling water bandwagon, (Spindrift, LaCroix, Bubly—the list goes on), you may have forgotten about mineral water. Or maybe you're wondering what mineral water even is.
Turns out, there's a legit definition behind mineral water and even some potential health perks. We dug in to answer all of your questions (even the ones you didn't know you had) about mineral water to find out what it is, if it's healthy and where to find it.
What Is Mineral Water?
According to the FDA, mineral water must come from a natural, protected, underground source. In order to qualify, it has to deliver minerals and trace elements—naturally. Mineral water may be still or sparkling; its key differentiator from other waters is that the minerals found inside can't be added.
Mineral Water vs Spring Water
While similar, as per the FDA definitions, spring water must come from an underground source that flows naturally to the surface. Spring water can be collected from where it rises to the surface, or can be tapped below the ground—so long as the water's natural flow isn't disrupted in the process of tapping it.
Mineral water also comes from an underground source, but it differs from spring water in that it has to consistently deliver a minimum proportion of naturally occurring minerals and other trace elements. Some mineral waters may be labeled as having "low" or "high" mineral content, but so long as they fall within the mineral-content threshold defined by the FDA, both qualify as mineral water.
Just like other bottled waters, mineral waters cannot contain contaminants or certain organic or synthetic chemicals. So, just because it comes from a natural source, that doesn't mean mineral waters get to bypass the safety rules that other bottled water manufacturers are required to follow.
Related: The Benefits of Lemon Water
Mineral Water Health Benefits
There are several health benefits to drinking mineral water, but here's the catch: The types and amounts of minerals—and thus, the health benefits—will vary based on where the water comes from. A mineral-rich source will boost the benefits you're getting, and will also impact the water's taste. Still, while the quantity of each may vary, all mineral waters typically offer calcium, which, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) helps build and maintain strong bones; magnesium, which helps keep your heart rhythm normal and aids in muscle contraction; and sodium, which helps with nerve and muscle function, according to the National Library of Medicine's resource, MedlinePlus.
The form that minerals take in water (called "ionic") makes them easier for your GI tract to absorb—so drinking your minerals has the potential to be a helpful way to get a significant percentage of your daily quota for calcium and magnesium in a single-liter bottle. A caveat: While sodium—in moderation—is important to help maintain some basic body functions, you probably don't need to purposefully seek it out to get enough. So if you're watching your salt intake, you may want to take it easy on mineral water.
Not a big milk drinker? Research, like the 2017 study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, has found that calcium from mineral water can be absorbed just as well as calcium from milk. That's good news for people who don't like—or can't drink—milk, and good news for your bones.
Lowers Metabolic Syndrome Risk
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions that raise your risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and stroke. A large 2019 review in Nutrients suggests that regular mineral water consumption has beneficial effects on several risk factors for metabolic syndrome, including blood pressure, triglycerides, HDL-cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Mineral Water Brands to Try
This isn't an all-encompassing list of all of the mineral waters on the market, but most of these brands are widely available.
- Calistoga Sparkling Mineral Water
- Crystal Geyser Natural Sparkling Mineral Water
- FIJI Water
- S. Pellegrino
- Topo Chico
- Whole Foods Italian Sparkling Mineral Water
- Whole Foods Italian Still Mineral Water
Mineral water has a variety of health benefits. But you don't have to drink your minerals if you'd prefer not to. All of the minerals found in mineral waters are also in the foods we eat. So keep it simple, and reach for whatever type of water you're most likely to drink enough of. It's important to stay hydrated for a variety of reasons, and research also shows that people who drink enough water tend to be healthier eaters overall. So drink up!