WaterStillar systems distill water. Is it safe to drink distilled water? Are minerals in water important? Is distilled water perhaps the most healthy choice? Are there different kinds of distilled water? Does water have properties that can not be measured? Could one kind of water be good for some and not so good for others?
The answer to the above can probably all be answered with a “Yes”. Understanding water is a highly complex matter and scientific work is ongoing. Some say that minerals in drinking water are important to public health, whilst others say that a balanced diet will give you all you need and that the minerals in the few liters of drinking water have no greater meaning.
The uptake of minerals through water and food can be quite different. According to WHO, enteric absorption of minerals from drinking water is determined by several factors including the intrinsic properties of particular chemical species that are present, physiological conditions of the gut environment, and exogenous factors related to the meal/diet in which the minerals are ingested. Accordingly, waterborne selenium (selenite, selenate) is passively absorbed at somewhat lower efficiencies (60-80%) than the selenoaminoacids in foods (90-95%) that are actively transported across the gut. The inorganic oxidized iron in water will be absorbed at very low (<5%) efficiencies similar to that of non-heme iron in plant foods (ref WHO nutrients in water p.4).
We assume that we all can agree that water is important; that toxic substances in water are bad; that pollution caused by water is bad; that taste is individual; that we get wiser every day and that there are no simple answers to complex matters. WaterStillar’s offer is distilled water, just like rain.
Minerals in drinking water
At WaterStillar we will not tell our customers what composition of minerals – if any – is the healthy choice. Just as WaterStillar will tell not customers what great tasting water is.
Upon intake of minerals over long periods, our bodies even adapt to them. In Europe, people drink water containing up to 300 ppm natural minerals (hard water) for thousands of years. Thus, their bodies adapted to these minerals and they can drink it without health effects. This water would probably be hard to enjoy for Koreans whose groundwater is more around 30 ppm minerals (ref. IWA publishing).
We offer clean, non-aggressive, pH-neutral water with no harmful substances whatsoever in it and then we simply recommend you to remineralise or add flavours/ bubbles to your drinking water according to your likings, conviction or knowledge.
Yes, we sell mineral cartridges (with calcium and magnesium), but professionally we cannot tell any customer to remineralise or not. What we can say is that if the uptake of calcium is a problem for people with a balanced diet, then perhaps more vitamin D is the answer.
Our current drinking water regulations focus on maximum allowed levels of bacteria and toxins. However, with regard to mineral balance, it is just as vital the levels of minerals are properly regulated with regard to both maximum and minimum levels, and to the ratios among the various elements. Safe re-mineralised water provides a win-win situation for public health – people are protected against harmful elements in the water while being provided with the balance of vital elements which go a long way towards promoting well-being and longevity.
Browsing through the scientific literature on this subject it seems that answers can go in either direction. One extreme is that the minerals in drinking water are not important for most people since we get the minerals we need in a well-balanced diet. Another extreme is that if we do not get calcium and especially magnesium in our drinking water, there is a weak risk for certain cardiovascular problems to occur.
A study in Asia comparing hard to soft water reported an increased risk of mortality from esophageal cancer in relation to the use of soft water, colon cancer, coronary artery disease or gastric cancer (ref. WHO nutrient in drinking water p.61). For other minerals like fluoride, it can be healthy for the tooth to have small concentrations in water but above a certain level teeth or even skeleton fluorosis could occur (ref WHO Nutrients in water p.ii). On the other end, increased concentrations of iron or copper could lead to an increased risk of heart attack (ref WHO nutrients in water p.7). Unlike recent popular opinions, there is no danger of cell death due to osmotic shock while drinking distilled water since it will mix with minerals taken in the body before cell contact. A permanent uptake of distilled water combined with unilateral nutrition could, however, lead to electrolyte deficiency in the body (Ref. spectrum.de).
It is possible to buy mineral mixtures to add to your drinking water. Thousands of minerals, salts, trace elements etc and it is not our business to know what is the correct, useful or needed. Fourteen mineral elements are established as being essential for good health; these elements in combined form affect bone and membrane structure (Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Fluoride), water and electrolyte balance (Sodium, Potassium, Chlorine), metabolic catalysis (Zinc, Copper, Selen, Magnesium, Manganese, Molybdenum), oxygen binding (Iron), and hormone functions (Iodine, Chromium). Thousands of further minerals, salts, trace elements etc and it is not our business to know what is the correct, useful or needed (ref WHO nutrients in water p.4).
Drinking water recommendations (WHO and EU)
Awareness of the importance of minerals and other beneficial constituents in drinking water has existed for thousands of years, being mentioned in the Vedas of ancient India. In the book Rig Veda, the properties of good drinking water were described as follows: “Sheetham (cold to touch), Sushihi (clean), Sivam (should have nutritive value, requisite minerals and trace elements), Istham (transparent), Vimalam lahu Shadgunam (its acid base balance should be within normal limits)” (ref. WHO nutrients in drinking water p.148)
On the less literary but scientific side, it seems like an impossible task, but WHO and EU have worked out guidelines on the quality of water intended for human consumption) concerns the quality of water intended for human consumption. Its objective is to protect human health from adverse effects of any contamination of water intended for human consumption by ensuring that it is wholesome and clean.
In WHO’s latest paper from 2005 on the matter, it is stated that “There is a need for more precise data on the impact of fluid composition and intake, including water and other aqueous beverages, on nutrient intake under a broader range of physiologic and climatic conditions for sensitive population segments in order to more precisely evaluate the importance of minerals in drinking water on mineral nutrition”. Later in the same section it states: “Studies on the mineral nutritional content and adequacy of world diets should be conducted so that adequacies and inadequacies can be documented and possibly mitigated.”
In other words: We do not have proof that minerals are needed in drinking water. They might. They might not.
The EU Drinking Water Directive applies to:
- all distribution systems serving more than 50 people or supplying more than 10 cubic meters per day, but also smaller distribution systems if the water is supplied as part of an economic activity;
- drinking water from tankers;
- drinking water in bottles or containers;
- water used in the food-processing industry, unless the competent national authorities are satisfied that the quality of the water cannot affect the wholesomeness of the foodstuff in its finished form.
The Drinking Water Directive does not apply to:
- natural mineral waters and marketing of natural mineral waters
- waters which are medicinal products
Both guidelines are a set of minimum and maximum values for the listed components in water.
Suggested desirable ranges macro mineral nutrients
- Calcium 20-80 mg/L
- Magnesium 10 -50 mg/L
- Bicarbonate 100-300 mg/L
- Sulfate 20-250 mg/L
- Flouride 0,8 – 1.2 mg/L
- TDS 10-500 mg/L
How much of the recommended daily intake then come from drinking water? Well, that depends on the quality of the water you drink, how much your drink, your activity level and body weight. In the below table you can see the % of a recommended daily intake of 2 liters of drinking water for an 70 kgs adult (ref: Rosborg 2005). Variations are very high, but many are in the range between 0 and 10% of the recommended daily intake. Conclusions are not easily made here, but the indication is that drinking water with minerals does not play a major role in a diet, the bulk of your daily requirements for nutrients are found in the food you eat.:
“Keeping proper body hydration is a key factor in maintaining physical and mental health and performance as well as to prevent a number of diseases and uncomfortable symptoms. Water is the main constituent of the human body and serves as a universal solvent and mediator of all chemical reactions of organisms. Water also delivers nutrients and aids in the transports of wastes, aids in regulating the body temperature, forms lubricating fluids in joints and the digestive tract, helps to maintain the body structures and supports a number of other functions.
The body of an adult consists of 50–60 % of water. On average, an adult person daily discharges approximately 2.5 L of water through urine, feces, breath and skin. However, the organism needs balanced water turnover and has to take in water to cover the losses. About 300 mL of “new water” is created through metabolic activity and about 900 mL is obtained from food. This means that the rest, about 1,300 mL, has to be consumed in the form of liquids.
Dehydration is the adverse consequence of inadequate water intake. The symptoms of acute dehydration vary with the degree of water deficit (1). For example, fluid loss at 1% of body weight impairs thermoregulation and, thirst occurs at this level of dehydration. Thirst increases at 2%, with dry mouth appearing at approximately 3%. Vague discomfort and loss of appetite appear at 2%. The threshold for impaired exercise thermoregulation is 1% dehydration, and at 4% decrements of 20-30% is seen in work capacity. Difficulty concentrating headache, and sleepiness are observed at 5%. Tingling and numbness of extremities can be seen at 6%, and collapse can occur at around 7% dehydration. A 10% loss of body water through dehydration is life-threatening (ref WHO nutrients in water p.25).
Water requirement is a strictly individual issue, which is dependent on a number of factors like body weight, age, sex, composition and amount of food, physical activity, clothing, environmental temperature and humidity, adaptation, present health status etc. Elder people lose their ability to feel thirst, so water intake has to be scheduled.” (ref: Ingegerd Rosborg: Drinking water minerals and mineral balance, Springer 2015)
Hangover? Drink water. Headache? Drink water. Diarrhea ? Drink water. Indigestion ? Drink water. Dry skin ? Drink water. Overheating ? Drink water. You continue the long, long list. Clean drinking water is essential for all forms of life and well being whilst alive.