When we think of water, we tend to think of it as the most basic drink out there. But the reality is that when it comes to what makes up water, it’s more than just good old H2O. There are not only different types of water and different ways to filter it, but there are also a lot of minerals that make up naturally occurring water itself. While these minerals can sometimes come with benefits, they can also cause damaging build-up in pipes and other potential problems.
Below, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most common minerals found in tap water and discuss their potential effects on our health.
Where Do the Minerals Come From?
As we’ve covered in previous articles, water that has more calcium, potassium and magnesium is considered “hard” water. Water that has less minerals is “soft water.” It’s not just “mineral water” that has these minerals, but also tap water and filtered water.
Most water comes from underground aquifers, springs, ponds and reservoirs that contain select amounts of minerals naturally. While many of these minerals are often added artificially, most of them make their way into our water supplies through natural means. When water comes up through springs, it is naturally filtered through rocks and sand, where it passes through mineral deposits such as limestone. Because these minerals are water soluble, they dissolve into the water as it passes through the deposits.
What Are the Most Common Minerals in Water?
One of these minerals that are commonly in water is calcium, which is the same mineral dairy milk is famous for. While even the hardest water only offers a small part of the daily amount of calcium we need, a large percentage of Americans are calcium deficient. Calcium leads to better bone density and reduces the likelihood of osteoporosis, so it’s important to pay attention to your dietary calcium intake if you use a water softener that removes calcium. Dairy milk is a great alternative source, as 10% of the recommended daily value of calcium can come from a single glass.
Another common mineral present in water is magnesium, of which you can get about 6% of your daily value from water. According to one study posted in Open Heart, 2018, 50-75% of Americans are deficient in magnesium depending on age group. Magnesium deficiency has been associated with depression, low energy and poor heart health, making it important to get it from as many sources as possible. Magnesium is a great mineral to take as a supplement, especially if you decide to go with a filter type that removes minerals. Eating more nuts can also help compensate for the magnesium lost to water filtration.
Fluoride comes in some area’s water naturally, but in others it is added. Our bodies use fluoride for several things including teeth strengthening, but some people have become concerned about the consumption of it—especially with regards to the practice of adding it to tap water.
It is true that fluoride can actually cause health problems in high amounts, and for this reason certain cities have outright banned its addition in their tap water. In general, however, most tap water has such a small amount of fluoride that its effect on our bodies is negligible. Mineral water you can buy on store shelves contains none at all.
Though technically not a mineral, water can also contain sodium. In fact, the sodium you consume from tap water can be an important part of your dietary needs, especially if you have been sweating a lot. Water normally has 3-5% of the sodium needed in a day, so it more supplements normal intake than replaces it. While we hear a lot about the dangers of consuming too much sodium, it is an important electrolyte your body uses to regulate temperature and provide energy. Deficiencies can cause all sorts of problems, especially for people who sweat heavily.