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What minerals am I drinking?

Did you know that the minerals in the water you drink contribute to your daily dietary requirements? Here are some of the common minerals found in natural mineral and spring waters, and their benefits.

Bicarbonate, or hydrogencarbonate (HCO3), stimulates digestion and helps to maintain acid balance in the stomach. It is also found in the blood and is essential for maintaining our body’s pH balance. Waters rich in bicarbonate (mg/L) include: Vichy Catalan (2081), Gerolsteiner (1816), Puits St Georges (1421), Perrier (445) and Evian (357).

Calcium (Ca), the most abundant mineral in the body, is essential for strong bones and teeth and healthy gums. It is also important for muscle contraction, nerve activity, beating of the heart, hormone release, blood clotting, energy production and proper immune system function. Requirements are greatest during periods of growth, such as childhood, during pregnancy and when breast-feeding. Adult requirements are around 800mg/day. Waters rich in calcium (mg/L) include: Gerolsteiner (348), San Pellegrino (187), Perrier (155), and Evian (78).

Magnesium (Mg) is essential for many metabolic processes, especially the correct distribution of sodium, potassium and calcium across our cell membranes. Most of it is stored in the bones. It is often called the anti-stress mineral as it helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function. Magnesium also keeps heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system, keeps bones strong, helps regulate blood sugar levels, promotes normal blood pressure, and is involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis. It also plays a role in preventing and managing migraines, PMS, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, kidney stones and diabetes. Adult requirements are around 300-400mg/day. Waters rich in magnesium (mg/L) include: Gerolsteiner (108), San Pellegrino (52), Puits St Georges (33), Evian (24).

Sodium (Na) is an essential mineral which along with potassium helps to regulate the body’s water balance and blood pressure. It is important for the proper functioning of nerves and muscles and maintaining blood pH. A proper balance of potassium and sodium is necessary for good health. Diuretics, often taken for high blood pressure and by the elderly, can cause sodium deficiency. However, most people consume too much sodium in their diet, and typically require more potassium to avoid an imbalance.

Adult requirements are around 2000mg/day but this increases with physical exertion such as event training or gym workouts. Most waters contain 10-100mg/L. Waters rich in sodium (mg/L) include: Vichy Catalan (1097), Puits St Georges (430) and Gerolsteiner(118). For those on a low sodium diet, waters low in sodium (mg/L) include: Santa Vittoria (0.6) and Evian (5).

Potassium (K) is an essential mineral, assisting in muscle contraction and working with sodium to regulate the body’s water balance inside the cell. It is important for a healthy nervous system, regular heart rhythm, and maintaining the alkalinity of body fluids. It also stimulates the kidneys to remove wastes, promotes healthy skin, helps to send oxygen to the brain for clear thinking, and helps prevent strokes. Adult requirements are around 2000-4000mg/day. Waters rich in potassium (mg/L) include: Vichy Catalan (50), Puits St Georges (18) and Gerolsteiner (11).

Nitrate (NO3) is an inorganic compound that occurs under a variety of conditions in the environment, both naturally and synthetically. In its natural state, water has less than 1mg/L of nitrate. Higher levels can indicate contamination of groundwater from the surrounding area. The maximum allowed in bottled water is 10 mg/L. Waters low in nitrate are considered more pure.

Chlorine (Cl) occurs naturally in the body as a chloride compound with either sodium or potassium. Our dietary supply of chloride is largely in the form of sodium chloride (NaCl), commonly known as salt. Chloride stimulates the production of hydrochloric acid required for good digestion, helps the liver to metabolise wastes, and regulates the body’s acid-alkaline and fluid balance. Chlorine can also be added to the water supply to destroy bacteria.

Nitrate (NO3) is an inorganic compound that occurs under a variety of conditions in the environment, both naturally and synthetically. In its natural state, water has less than 1mg/L of nitrate. Higher levels can indicate contamination of groundwater from the surrounding area. Unless otherwise specified, nitrate levels usually refer only to the amount of nitrogen present (the oxygen is not measured). The maximum allowed in bottled water is 10 mg/L. Waters low in nitrates are considered more pure.

Silicon (Si) is the second most abundant mineral on the planet after oxygen and is most commonly found as Silica, or silicon dioxide (SiO2). Silica is one of nature’s natural cleansing agents, and is important for healthy hair and skin, nails and eyes. It is necessary for the formation of collagen for bones and connective tissue, for calcium absorption, flexible arteries and cardiovascular health. It is also claimed to counteract the effects of aluminum in the body, stimulate the immune system, inhibit premature aging, and help prevent Alzheimer’s and osteoporosis. Waters rich in Silica(mg/L) include: Fiji (85), Vichy Catalan (77), Otakiri Reserve (76), Pure NZ (73) and Antipodes (73).

Sulphates (SO4), the salts of Sulphur (S), are found in all body tissues. Sulphur is often called nature’s beauty mineral because it is prevalent in keratin, a tough protein substance in hair, nails and skin. It is also involved in the synthesis of collagen, the principal protein which gives the skin structural integrity. It helps the body to resist bacteria, protects against toxic substances such as radiation and pollution, and helps slow the ageing process. Sulfates in high doses also act as a laxative. Waters rich in Sulfates (mg/L) include: San Pellegrino (476), Vichy Catalan (50), and Perrier (46).

Fluorine (Fl) is present in minute amounts in nearly every human tissue, but primarily in the teeth and bones. There are two types, natural and synthetic:

  • Calcium fluoride is found in nature and is very different to the silicofluorides added to tap water. It increases the deposition of calcium in the bones and teeth, reduces acid formation in the mouth (especially from carbohydrates), increases the elasticity of connective tissue, and reduces the movement of minerals out of tooth enamel.
  • Silicofluorides, commonly added to municipal drinking water, can increase the density of bone but also the brittleness. They are not natural; they are industrial wastes that are toxic and difficult to digest. Although fluoride is commonly added to water as a “public service” to prevent tooth decay in children, controversy has surrounded this practice as large amounts of these fluorides can weaken the immune system and may cause heart disease, genetic damage and cancers.

Sodium fluoride, which is commonly added to municipal drinking water, increases the density of bone but also the brittleness. The sodium fluoride added to our water supply is a bi-product of aluminium; an industrial waste that is toxic and difficult to digest. Although it is commonly added to water as a “public service” to prevent tooth decay in children, controversy has surrounded this practice as large amounts of fluoride can weaken the immune system and may cause heart disease, genetic damage and cancers.

Total Dissolved Solids

Total dissolved solids (TDS) indicate the amount of dissolved minerals and other “soluble matter” contained in one litre of water. Only water sourced from an underground, water-bearing strata (as defined in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code), with natural minerals, may be labelled as a natural mineral or spring water. No minerals may be added to the water. The actual definition varies between countries, but most require strict quality controls on both the source and treatment processes, and these usually ensure the original natural state of the source water is not modified.

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