What Minerals Are in Water?

What Minerals Are in Water

Though it doesn’t always look or taste like anything particularly special, our water is far more nutritional than we might realize.

No, not even bottled mineral water will supply you with the nutrients your body needs to get by on a day-to-day basis – you’ll need to look at your dietary choices to make sure you’re getting your recommended daily intake of important minerals.

But drinking 2 liters of water per day can also contribute towards that RDI, some more than others.

Most of us know that calcium and magnesium can be found in water. But did you know that water contains traces of more than 10 minerals as well as the well-known? In this article, I’ll provide an analysis of the common minerals in water and a quick summary of the public health benefits of drinking them.

minerals in drinking water

Common Minerals in Water

Calcium

Calcium, otherwise known as calcium carbonate, is a mineral that can be found in the human body’s teeth and bones.

Calcium intake is vital for a number of important functions. When you consume this mineral, it can stimulate blood clotting, regulate hormones, support the nervous system, and ensure proper muscle contraction. Research suggests that being deficient in calcium in the long term can result in brittle bones (osteoporosis), brian alterations, dental decline, and even heart problems.

Copper

Copper is another of the significant dietary minerals in the body. It works to manage the formation of red blood cells and maintain healthy blood vessels, nerves and bones, as well as support immune function. Getting a high mineral intake of this mineral has even been proven to reduce the risk of osteoporosis and heart disease.

A deficiency in this nutrient can result in a number of issues such as muscle weakness, neurological problems, anemia, and skin paleness.

Fluoride

Fluoride may be found naturally in water in varying amounts, depending on where you live in the U.S or your country. Many states add this mineral to tap water during the drinking water treatment process, as it has proven significant in maintaining dental health and preventing tooth decay.

There’s controversy around whether adding even a little fluoride to water is really good for adults and particularly children when consumed on a daily basis, but data suggests that on the whole, it’s healthy to drink trace amounts of this mineral.

Related: Removing fluoride from your tap water

Iron

Iron is used by the body to produce red blood cells.

Most of us have heard of anemia, which results from an iron deficiency. A lack of this mineral in food and water may also expose you to risks such as impaired immunity, making you more prone to infection and illness. You may also experience problems with the lungs and heart; therefore it’s important to make sure you’re getting your daily intake of this mineral in the food you eat as well as the water you drink.

Magnesium

Getting enough magnesium per day is important for managing multiple tiny biochemical reactions. Alongside calcium, magnesium is also needed for the growth and maintenance of strong bones.

When you don’t get enough magnesium in your diet, you have the potential to experience short-term side effects like fatigue, nausea and weakness. In the long run, you might experience heart problems, muscle cramps and numbness.

Manganese

Manganese, while only needed in small quantities, is another of the essential minerals we couldn’t live without. It supports calcium in the bone-building process, and is also needed for wound healing. Manganese even has an effect on the body’s ability to use amino acids and carbohydrates. Laboratory studies suggest that without manganese, your bones cannot grow as they should.

Phosphorus

Phosphorous is also required for teeth and bones. It also helps the body to use fats and carbohydrates effectively, helps with protein production for the growth and repair of cells, and aids in muscle recovery after a workout. Not getting your recommended daily intake of phosphorus could potentially result in muscle weakness, anemia, and pain in your bones, among other issues.

Potassium

Potassium is involved in muscle contraction, and is also needed for the proper functioning of the nervous system and the regulation of the heartbeat. You might feel really weak or fatigued, have stiff muscles or muscle cramps/aches, or even have concerns with breathing difficulties or heart palpitations if you don’t add the recommended average amount of this nutrient to your diet.

Sodium

Sodium is a nutrient that’s needed for helping the muscles and nerves to communicate. Sodium is also required to control the pressure and volume of our blood, and balance our bodies’ minerals and water levels.

Zinc

Finally, a stable zinc content in the body can support immune functioning and help to fight off harmful pathogens like viruses. We also need this mineral to make cell DNA and protein, and it is especially imperative for pregnant women, as the fetus relies on zinc for proper development.

Mineral Level by Type of Drinking Water

As I mentioned earlier, not all sources of water are equal when it comes to mineral intake. Be sure to consider that consumption of certain water sources will offer an increased level of minerals compared to others.

Some of the most common drinking water sources to choose from are tap water, mineral water and regular bottled water.

Principal Aquifers in the US
Principal Aquifers in the US (source: USGS)

Tap Water

Tap water is, as the name suggests, the water that is supplied to most households in the United States. It travels through the pipes in your home, to your tap, straight to your glass. Most tap water sources are usually derived from rivers, lakes, surface water and groundwater, and will undergo some form of filtration or sterilization at a treatment center before making its way to your home.

Depending on the composition of the rocks and soils in your local area, your tap water samples will have a higher or lower mineral content. However, very few tap water samples will have a mineral content that rivals the stuff you can get in a bottle.

Tap water also generally has higher levels of contaminants. EPA regulations limit the concentration of contaminants present in tap water that’s sent to our homes, but published data offers evidence that substances like lead, arsenic and chemicals including chlorine might be present in low levels.

Tap water is typically disinfected with chlorine, a chemical that many people would prefer not to drink in a source of water because of its known associated health complications.

You can filter the majority of contaminants out of water, significantly improving its quality, with different home water filters.

minerals naturally occurring in water

Mineral Water

Legally, water from a bottle that’s labeled as mineral water must contain a consistent composition of minerals, which usually includes high levels of calcium, magnesium, phosphates and more. This type of water is typically the most “expensive” due to its addition of minerals and is regulated based on standards set by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States.

Most mineral waters are derived from springs, and their journey through rocks and soils gives them a naturally high mineral content. However, what makes mineral water superior to the average water source is that additional minerals are added (usually at least 250 parts per million/ milligrams per liter of total dissolved solids – i.e. trace minerals or elements).

Exclusively drinking mineral water still won’t provide you with all the minerals your body needs, however.

bottled spring water

Regular Bottled Water

Regular water from plastic bottles, otherwise labeled as spring water, will usually come from an underground spring – but this water might also come from a well or a different underground aquifer. Spring water contains only the minerals it has naturally picked up from earth, rocks and soils, unlike mineral beverages. No additional types of minerals are added to it, which generally gives it a lower mineral content than mineral-rich water from a bottle.