Water is the essence of our life. It is the far most common liquid present on earth. About 74 per cent of the surface of the earth is covered with water, including oceans, rivers, lakes, in the solid-state including ice caps and glaciers. Water also exists in the atmosphere as vapour and even in you and me. Water is transient continuously changing its form. The composition of water varies according to topography and altitude. Water cannot be just defined as H2O. It has always contained some dissolved minerals in it whether it is your surface water or groundwater. The importance of minerals in drinking water has existed for many years in Ayurveda. Ayurveda describes the ideal drinking water 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)”. It is because of these attributes of water, it is also called a life-giver. When mankind took to cultivation, his most important settlements were near the rivers. Demineralised water or reverse-osmosis treated water was earlier used for industrial, Pharmaceutical, technical and laboratory purposes. However, this technology has reached the area of drinking water. Reverse-osmosis water has become common in many households. In this chapter, demineralised water is defined as the water with TDS(Total dissolved solids) content as low as 70mg/l and electrical conductivity is generally less than 93.75 µS/cm (micro Siemens/cm).
II.HEALTH RISKS FROM THE CONSUMPTION OF DEMINERALISED OR LOW- MINERAL WATER
Knowledge of some effects of consumption of demineralised water is based on experimental and observational data. Experiments were conducted on laboratory animals, aquatic lifeform and human volunteers. Observational data were collected from areas supplied with hard water, areas supplied with low mineral water and individual consuming reverse osmosis water. Demineralised water that contains an only small amount of calcium and magnesium is known as low-mineral water. The possible adverse consequences of low mineral water are discussed below:
- Directly affects metabolism, immune system, nervous system, intestinal assimilation, cognitive function, cardiovascular system, hormonal state, emotional state.
- Loss of calcium, magnesium and other micronutrients from the body.
- The intoxication of water by harmful metals.
- Presence of certain minerals in water has a beneficial effect on the body.
- Stunted and poor growth of plants.
1.Directly affects metabolism, intestinal assimilation, cognitive function, cardiovascular system, hormonal state, emotional state, immune system, nervous syste
When low mineral water is entered into the mucous membranes, it damages the mucous membrane, causes erosion, ulceration or inflammation in the membrane. It increases the cortisol in the body. It changes the state of the body and works against the vital forces of the body. It shifts the healthy state of the body towards dissipation.
Individuals in the age group of 18-60 were given low mineral water for consumption for one year. Height, weight, age, and blood type of patients were recorded. Spectrophotometry of the palmar dermis by oligoscan spectrophotometer was employed to take the following observation.
84% of individuals showed a decrease in metabolic activity.8% of individuals showed a decrease in immune function.5% of individuals showed impairment of nervous system and 3% of individuals showed no changes in body functions.
Same individuals were again given low mineral water for consumption for one year and kept under observation. The following results were obtained
No change was observed in individuals with decreased immune function and individuals with impairment of the nervous system. However, changes were observed in the group of decreased metabolism, cognitive function, cardiovascular system. Imperfect assimilation and consequent defective nutrition were observed. It goes further and produces neurasthenia in consequence, and increased sensitivity to nervous stimuli and exaggerated reflexes.
2. Loss of calcium, magnesium and other micronutrients from the body
When low mineral water is entered into the intestine, the difference in osmotic pressure between the epithelial cell and water results in the loss of calcium and magnesium ions from the cells. Impaired nutrition is the gist of its effect and insidious to the glands, skin, and bones. The prolonged consumption of low mineral water causes profound nutritive changes to take place in the system, and there arises an alteration in the blood causing a condition of anaemia. Pituitary gland disorder, thyroid dysfunction, Addison’s disease, diabetes, asthma and stunted growth are the long term harmful effects of consumption of low mineral water. Moreover, it also reduces the ability of the human body to absorb calcium and magnesium from food ingested. It leaves the body in a state, where it no longer can fulfil its mineral requirements from the diet. Spectrophotometry of palmar dermis by oligoscan spectrophotometer reveals that continuous loss of ions from the body fluids results in disturbed calcium/magnesium, calcium/phosphorus, potassium/sodium and copper/zinc ratio, disturbs water metabolism. In extreme cases, it can also cause specific organ damage. It was also found that low mineral water increases cortisol and increases predisposition to allergies.
3.The intoxication of water by harmful metals
Low mineral water is highly invasive, its distribution through pipes and storage tanks would not be possible. The invasive water attacks the water distribution piping and leaches out harmful metals from the pipes. In case of water storage tanks especially made up of plastic, it accumulates a large amount of BPA and phthalates over time. This is cautionary and hence water storage tanks or water filters made up of plastic should be avoided. If low mineral water is used for cooking, it leaches out aluminium, cobalt, nickel from the utensil and intoxicates the prepared food. Presence of a high amount of calcium and magnesium in water have a protective effect against the intoxication of water. Cooking in low mineral water also depletes the minerals from the food including calcium, magnesium and a few other microelements (e.g., copper, manganese, silica). Consumption of nutrient deficient food causes the body to utilise its mineral reserves to digest the food, thus depleting its own resources. In contrast, when hard water is employed for cooking, the loss of those elements is far lower, and in some cases, a good higher calcium content was reported in food as a result of cooking.
4.Presence of certain minerals in water has a beneficial effect on the body
Magnesium and calcium are Involved in Hundreds of Biochemical Reactions in our Body including energy creation, protein formation, gene maintenance, muscle movement, nervous system regulation. Preliminary evidence was also available that some substances present in water could have beneficial effects on human health as well as adverse effects. For example, experience with artificially fluoridated water showed a decrease within the incidence of tooth caries, and a few epidemiological studies reported lower morbidity and mortality from some cardiovascular diseases in areas with hard water. Hard water tends to have an anti-inflammatory effect.
5. Stunted and poor growth of plants
Evidence comes from plant experiments and clinical observations for several months. Plants supplied with hard water(no fertilizers used) showed better growth have firm leaves, well-formed flowers, nutritious fruit and well-developed root systems. On the contrary, the plant supplied with low mineral(no fertilizers used) water showed symptoms of nutrient deficiency include stunted growth, death of plant tissue, yellowing of the leaves. Consumption of unwholesome plants will not provide adequate vitamins and minerals to the human body. Plants, as well as all living things, need nutrients and minerals to thrive. These chemical elements are needed for growth, metabolic functioning, and completion of its life cycle. Plants take in carbon (C) and Oxygen (O2) in the air through their leaves. All other nutrients are found in the soil, which can be supplied either through water or fertilizers and are taken up for use in the roots. Macronutrients are consumed in large quantities: nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, potassium. Smaller amounts of micronutrients (or trace minerals) are needed: iron, cobalt, nickel, boron.
III. DESIRABLE MINERAL CONTENT OF DEMINERALISED DRINKING WATER
We are now very much familiar with the corroding nature of demineralised water and health risks associated with its distribution and consumption. This has led to recommendations of the minimum and optimum mineral content in drinking water. Thirst-quenching capacity and Oral senses characteristics of water were also considered in the recommendations.
Based on the currently available data, various researchers have recommended that the following levels of calcium, magnesium, and water hardness should be in drinking water:
- Water temperature should be between 15-350 C because it best satisfies physiological needs. Water temperatures above 350C or below 150 C resulted in a reduction in water consumption.
- For magnesium, a minimum of 10 mg/L and an optimum of about 20-30 mg/L.
- For calcium, a minimum of 20 mg/L and an optimum of about 50 (40-80) mg/L.
- For total water hardness, the sum of calcium and magnesium should be 2 to 4 mmol/L.
- The minimum TDS(total dissolved solids) of water should be 100 ppm.
At these concentrations, minimum or no adverse health effects were observed.
We also looked into the mineral content of water present In glaciers, mountains and freshwater lakes to get an insight into “what nature intends”.
Water sourced directly from the Shivalik Range in the Himalayan Mountains.
Water sourced from the glacial plateau in the French Alps. The water naturally filters through layers of protected underground rock for over 15 years.
Water sourced from the aquifer beneath the hills of Tuscany.
Water is sourced from a Thermo mineral spring located in Ambo Senkele,130 km from Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia.
The mineral content of water from above-mentioned sources is also found per the recommendations of the World Health Organization.
Drinking water should contain minimum levels of essential minerals (and other components such as carbonates). This issue is relevant where home treatment of water reduces the mineral content of the water or where low mineral water-bottled is consumed. Drinking water can be stabilized by the addition of calcium and magnesium, but this is usually not the case for water demineralised as a result of the reverse osmosis system. Even when stabilized, the mineral content of some waters may not be adequate to call it ideal water. Possibly none of the current ways of remineralization can be considered optimum because they fail to produce water which is ideal for human consumption. This chapter provides a rationale for this conclusion. The evidence in terms of experimental effects and findings are sufficient to prove the conclusion.
Water purifier manufacturers and companies in the business of bottled water should consider the guidelines for water treatment specifying the minimum content of essential nutrients such as calcium and magnesium, Ph and TDS.
Reverse osmosis system is a great way to purify your drinking water but always do a background check of your municipality water before buying one. Reverse osmosis system should be employed where groundwater is used for drinking purpose or the TDS of municipality water lies above 1000 ppm. Unnecessary use of a reverse osmosis system to treat drinking water will cause more harm than good. Moreover, if necessary use a reverse osmosis system with a steel-based storage tank instead of plastic-based storage tanks.
There are other water filtering techniques available that are economical and will suit our needs. These include charcoal-based filters, distillation, activated alumina, UV filtration. These filtration techniques give the best results when you combine multiple methods.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Sarvesh
Sarvesh (author) from INDIA on November 08, 2020:
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