The Health Benefits of Mineral Water That Make It Worth Sipping

Photo: Stocksy/Pietro Karras
You've probably been sipping on mineral water without even realizing it. Unlike tap water, it comes straight out of the earth and into a bottle from natural sources. Think S.Pellegrino, which comes from the foothills of the Italian Alps, or Fiji Water, where the water gathers minerals as it filters through layers of volcanic rock in a rain forest.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says anything sold as mineral water must originate from "a geologically and physically protected underground water source." It also must also contain at least 250 parts per million total dissolved solids, and those minerals and trace elements must come naturally from the water—not added in later after it's collected. Those minerals differ, too, depending on where it comes from.

"Not all mineral waters look the same," says registered dietitian Nora Minno, RD, CDN. "Some have higher concentrations of certain minerals or combinations of different minerals, like iron, calcium, sodium, or fluoride."

While mineral water definitely sounds dreamy, are there any perks to buying those pricey bottles when tap water is readily available for free? Here's what you should know about the health benefits of mineral water.

Health benefits of mineral water

Aside from helping you stay hydrated, as any water does, the health benefits of drinking mineral water can also help you meet some of your daily nutritional needs. "Mineral water can be a healthy way to get some of these vital nutrients other than through food. For example, we need calcium for bone and heart health, and mineral water contains this beneficial mineral," says registered dietitian Abbie Gellman, MS, RD, CDN. In fact, past research found women who drank calcium-rich mineral water improved their spine mineral density and femoral bone density.

Mineral water's other minerals have been shown to offer health benefits, too. While the amounts in bottles differ, mineral water contains iron, which is important for your tissues and organs, as well as brain function. "For those who have iron-deficiency anemia or for pregnant women suffering from anemia, ferrous waters can help increase iron levels," says Minno. It also contains fluoride, which plays a role in your teeth health and bone development, and potassium, which helps muscles contract and regulates your body's fluids.

Mineral water has also been shown to improve gastric functions, says Minno. A 2016 study published in the journal Clinical Cases in Mineral and Bone Metabolism found that bicarbonate mineral water can help neutralize acid secretion, which increases the "pH level in the gastric lumen and stimulates the release of digestive hormones." The same study noted sulphate and magnesium mineral waters also help with bowel function, reducing constipation, improving constipation symptoms, and improving overall bowel movements in general.

Another health benefit of drinking mineral water is that is could help you break an unhealthy soda habit. "If you’re hooked on carbonated beverages like sugary sodas, carbonated mineral water could be a great way to get that fizzy taste without the added sugar or calories," Minno says.

Potential drawbacks of drinking mineral water

Generally, experts don't really have anything negative to say about mineral water. Studies have shown that for most people, it's safe and there's not really anything bad about drinking it. That being said, Gellman says if you have high blood pressure or have been prescribed a low-sodium diet, you might want to skip out on drinking it due to its sodium content.

If you typically drink carbonated mineral water, there's something to think about, too. "Sparkling mineral water may fool you into thinking you've been hydrating properly, but carbonation can mistakenly fill you up quicker than flat water," says Gellman. Carbonated water—along with carbonated anything—also puts gas directly into your gut, which can cause you to become bloated and/or deal with excess burps or farts. Just make sure you're loading up on flat water, too, and you're good to go.

Should you drink mineral water every day?

While you don't need to drink mineral water every day, Minno says doing so has some benefits—particularly helping you meet your RDAs of certain minerals you might not get via your diet, like calcium and magnesium.

"For example, you may get plenty of minerals in your daily diet and are also great at drinking plenty of water throughout the day. If that’s the case, mineral water may not be necessary," she says. "However, if you fall short in certain minerals and could use some help with your total daily fluid intake, then mineral water could serve a great purpose in your daily diet."

When choosing which kind to grab, there are many options at the grocery store that will be beneficial. It really just depends on your preference. Gellman prefers Perrier and S.Pellegrino for bubbling and Fiji for flat, and Minno is a fan of Topo Chico. "I love the taste and that it comes in glass bottles, which are environmentally-friendly. It also eliminates the risk of any release of chemicals from plastic bottles into the water," she says.

All in all, whether you drink mineral water regularly is up to you. But if you grab a bottle every now and then, there are clearly many reasons why it can do your body good.

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