Water: the source of life, and the sweetest drink after a long run or hike.
Water is essential to your health in more ways than one. Drinking water can help you maintain a normal body temperature, support important organs, energize your muscles and keep your skin glowing.
Water is also great for your oral health, too. It strengthens your teeth, helps wash away bacteria and fights off dry mouth. Plus, choosing water over sugary drinks like soda or fruit juices can help protect your teeth from decay.
To reap the full health benefits of water, you want to make sure you’ve got the purest water available to you and your family.
But how do you know which types of water are the healthiest for you? From bottled to tap to distilled water, here’s how different types of water can affect your health.
Americans are the largest consumers of bottled water in the world. Every American drinks about 30 gallons of bottled water a year.
The reason bottled water is so popular with Americans? As it turns out, the majority of bottled water drinkers report the quality of water to be the reason behind their purchase.
But is bottled water any better for you than tap water?
According to safety experts, except for a few cases, bottled water isn’t any healthier than your tap water. But it is more expensive — at about $1.22 per gallon, bottled water is at least 300 times more expensive than tap water.
Lack of purity standards
The FDA regulates bottled water by requiring identification of the source (spring, mineral), regulates allowable levels of chemical, physical, microbial and radiological contaminants, requires Good Manufacturing Practice standards for boiling and bottling, and regulates labeling.
But it’s harder to know if other bottled water meets certain purity standards. Bottled water could become contaminated at the bottling plant.
Look for the voluntary NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) certification or a state certification that your water meets certain standards of purity.
Magnesium boost from bottled water
Some bottled water does come with a mineral boost that could be good for you.
Research concerning the connection between cardiovascular health and water "hardness" (how much magnesium and calcium are in your water) found that a lack of magnesium is a significant heart disease risk factor.
For bottled water to give you a magnesium boost, it should have at least 250 milligrams of total dissolved solids (TDS).
You can also eat magnesium-rich foods to get the same effect, like spinach, bananas, avocados and almonds.
Filtered tap water
Whether you live in a big city or rural America, many people drink tap water every day. Tap water is the second most popular beverage in the US, after soda.
Filtered tap water can help remove contaminants that affect your tap water’s odor and color, or that could affect your health (like contaminants from lead pipes).
No water filtration system will get rid of every contaminant that could be lurking in your family’s water. If you decide to install a system, have your water tested by a certified laboratory first to find out what's in your water.
No matter which water filtering system you choose, you’ll need to maintain it. If you don’t, contaminants could build up in the filter and make the water quality worse than it would be without the filter.
Straight tap water
The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) holds all public sources of drinking water to strict safety standards. This means the majority of US citizens can trust the health and safety of the water that comes out of their tap.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, or the EPA, there are certain chemicals, vitamins, and minerals in tap water that can help maintain the health and safety of your tap water. Some of these additives include fluoride to improve dental health and chlorine to kill bacteria.
There is some risk of your tap water being contaminated by various factors. Your tap water could become contaminated after a break in the water line, or through lead getting into the water from pipes. Even ''lead-free'' pipes can contain as much as 8% lead.
In this case, a water filter could be a good alternative to ensuring your tap water goes through an extra filtration before you and your family drink it.
Distilled water is water that has been boiled, and then the steam has been condensed back into a liquid.
This process removes impurities from water but also removes any vitamins or minerals. You can buy distilled water in bottles or jugs, or you can distill your own.
Distilled water doesn’t provide essential minerals like calcium and magnesium that you get from tap water. And because it doesn’t contain its own minerals, distilled water could pull minerals from whatever it touches to maintain balance.
This means distilled water can absorb trace amounts of plastic from the container its held in. But it can also pull minerals from your body once you drink it.
How much water do I need every day?
Not drinking enough water could lead to dehydration, which can cause a list of problems: muscle cramping, lack of coordination or even heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
So how much water do you need a day to stay healthy?
Institute of Medicine's Food and Nutrition Board recommends that women drink 91 ounces of water a day, and men drink 125 ounces.
The dangers of contaminated water
Not all water has the same health properties. When water is contaminated, it can harm rather than help your health:
Ways that water can be contaminated:
- Can contain bacteria and parasites from human or animal fecal matter.
- Can contain chemicals from industrial waste or spraying crops.
- Nitrates used in fertilizers can enter the water with runoff from the land.
- Minerals such as lead or mercury can enter the water supply from natural deposits underground or improper disposal.
Staying in good health is a multi-step process, and many people don’t realize that the water they choose to drink is part of it. Making well-informed decisions about your water allows you and your family to keep your bodies at their peak performance.