The body needs two types of minerals to functional optimally: trace minerals (microminerals) and macrominerals. Trace minerals are required in much smaller amounts than macrominerals, although they are equally important. Trace minerals are a catalyst that helps regulate chemical reactions in the body. Some trace minerals are essential for maintaining health.
Macrominerals and trace minerals are present in the food and drinks we consume, so the variety and quality of what we consume is important.
WHAT DO TRACE MINERALS DO IN THE BODY?
Trace minerals play an important role in many bodily functions:
IRON: vital for the production of hemoglobin which delivers oxygen throughout the body.
ZINC: is present in enzymes and is used to create proteins in the body. It’s vital for healthy body and brain function, especially during pregnancy and growth from childhood to adolescence.
IODINE: regulates growth and development.
SELENIUM: is an antioxidant important for thyroid function, defense against free radicals which can cause cell damage. Free radicals are associated with many diseases such as cancer, heart disease, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s disease.
COPPER: plays a role in the creation of connective tissue and blood vessels and helps maintain the nervous system and immune system.
MANGANESE: helps protect your cells from damage and plays a role in healthy bones, reproduction, blood clotting and immunity.
FLUORIDE: keeps bones and teeth healthy and strong.
CHROMIUM: may help your body use carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
MOLYBDENUM: processes proteins, DNA, and helps break down toxic substances.
NICKEL: is an important component of blood and is sometimes used to treat anemia. It may be beneficial in the treatment of osteoporosis.
SILICON: is used to treat osteoporosis, heart disease stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and gastrointestinal disorders.
Adapted from the Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet at the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
ARE IN WATER?
Minerals commonly found in water include calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, bicarbonate, iron, and zinc. Many of these minerals occur naturally, picked up as water flows over rock, silt, and sand. The presence, number, and concentration of trace minerals in tap water and bottled water is variable, depending on the source of the tap water and practices of the bottled water producer. A recent study “Comparison of the Mineral Content of Tap Water and Bottled Waters” found that mineral levels in North American tap water were inconsistent in the water samples studied. For example, in half the tap water sampled, adults drinking 2 litres of tap water per day would receive 8-16% of their dietary reference intake (daily recommended intake) of calcium, and 6-31% of magnesium. The study found that most European bottled waters had significantly higher amounts of minerals. Just one litre of a moderately mineralized European bottled water contained 20-58% DRI of calcium and 16-41% DRI of magnesium.
IS BOTTLED TRACE MINERAL WATER GOOD FOR YOU?
Because of concerns about tap water’s safety, widely publicized incidence of water contamination, and reports of lead leaching from old plumbing and infrastructure, bottled water consumption is on the rise. In an informal study of tap water in 11 Canadian municipalities, 33% of tap water sampled exceeded the national safety standards for lead.
Although most tap water is said to be safe, plumbing, and aging infrastructure may be playing a role in its contamination.
Health Canada states in “The Safety of Bottled Water” that “Bottled water sold in Canada has generally been found to be of good quality and is not considered to pose any health hazard. To date, there have been no reports of outbreaks of illness related to bottled water in Canada.”
AND DISEASE PREVENTION
Trace mineral deficiencies are associated with several health problems.
CALCIUM DEFICIENCY may cause osteoporosis, muscle cramping, fatigue, loss of appetite, and irregular heart rhythms.
IRON DEFICIENCY can cause anemia. Iron is needed to produce healthy red blood cells, and hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to tissue. Iron is also present in enzymes and proteins in your body.
MAGNESIUM DEFICIENCY can cause weakness and fatigue, nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite. Magnesium is an important mineral that helps regulate blood glucose and blood pressure, healthy brain function, metabolism, and protein production.
POTASSIUM DEFICIENCY can cause muscle cramps, fatigue, constipation, and bloating. In severe cases, muscle paralysis and even death can occur. Potassium is a mineral and an electrolyte. Electrolytes hydrate, regulate nerve function, keep muscles functioning optimally, and moderate blood acidity and blood pressure.
ZINC DEFICIENCY can cause a host of illnesses or disfunction including: immune system impairment, hair loss, delayed sexual maturation and impotence, male hypogonadism, weight loss, wounds that are slow to heal, and mental lethargy. Zinc helps ensure healthy development during pregnancy and during childhood and adolescence.
WHY PEOPLE DRINK MINERALIZED WATER
People choose to drink mineralized water (such as alkaline spring water) instead of tap water for many reasons:
- Distrust of tap water because of worry about contaminants.
- To ensure they consume the recommended daily allowance of essential trace minerals in their diet.
- To combat illnesses associated with trace mineral deficiency.
- Purity and taste.