In my last blog post I looked at whether or not a reverse osmosis (RO) water filtration system is the right technology for your homes or office. Towards the end of the post, I promised to look further into whether or not demineralized water is safe drinking water. Research clearly shows the negative health effects of consuming water produced by reverse osmosis (or distillation) which is classified as demineralized. Skip down a few paragraphs for the full story.
Is demineralized water worth it?
- Can you remineralize water produced by distillation or reverse osmosis by installing in-line cartridges or adding a pinch of Himalayan sea salt? Yes. Does it reproduce what Mother Nature has created over thousands of years? Probably not.
- Can you use stainless steel plumbing and glass containers to avoid metal leaching and acidification by carbon dioxide absorption? Yes. Is is still a good idea to drink highly aggressive, demineralized water? Most health experts say no.
- Should you use demineralized water for cooking, making coffee or preparing baby formula? The experts clearly say no, it's not safe drinking water. What then do you use for cooking? Unfiltered, chlorinated tap water that may contain contaminants like VOCs, THMs, Lead and Mercury?
- When you add the negative health effects of demineralized water to the discussion points in our last blog about RO including the high cost, installation challenges, maintenance requirements and high volume of waste water produced, is it really worth it?
What Type of Water Filtration System Would I Recommend?
After working with a long list of water treatment technologies and applications for over 15 years, I believe that except for truly extenuating circumstances and water sources, a combination of carbon block and ultrafiltration (UF) technologies, certified to NSF/ANSI 42 and 53 standards is the right tool for making most municipal tap water into safe drinking water. That’s why I’ve trusted both my workplace and family’s water to the Everpure line of water filtration systems from industry leader Pentair, My favourite is the Everpure H-300 because of it's ability to remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including THMs. Click here to see if the Everpure H-300 Water Filtration System from Elua is right for your home or office.
What is demineralized water?
As you might guess by the name, demineralized water (also referred to as deionized water) is almost completely free of minerals such as Magnesium, Calcium and a long list of other naturally occurring, dissolved minerals. Demineralized water is generally defined as having between 1-10 mg/L (ppm) of total dissolved solids (TDS). By contrast, spring or mineral waters have TDS levels of between 50-300 mg/L. While the term “demineralized water” sounds innocent enough, is it safe drinking water? Many authorities have gone on record to state that drinking it will adversely affect your health. One of those authorities is the World Health Organization (WHO) which produced a report in 2004 titled “Health Risks From Drinking Demineralised Water”. In it, they state the following:
“It has been adequately demonstrated that consuming water of low mineral content has a negative effect on homeostasis mechanisms, compromising the mineral and water metabolism in the body.”
Why would consuming water with a lower mineral content have a negative effect on our health?
The WHO breaks up the answer into 5 categories:
- Direct effects on the intestinal mucous membrane, metabolism and mineral homeostasis or other body functions.
- Little or no intake of calcium and magnesium from low-mineral water.
- Low intake of other essential elements and microelements.
- Loss of calcium, magnesium and other essential elements in prepared food.
- Possible increased dietary intake of toxic metals.
To explain in simpler language, demineralized water isn't the safest drinking water for you health for these 4 reasons:
- Negatively effects various aspects of our biology,
- Does not provide minerals essential to our health,
- Strips foods of essential minerals when used for cooking, making juice, baby formula, etc.,
- Attacks metal surfaces such as copper and lead plumbing and fittings, tanks and even bottles, dissolving metals and other impurities into the water.
While the title gives away his opinion about whether or not demineralized water is safe drinking water, Zoltan P. Rona MD MSc states the following in his article “Early Death Comes With Regular Drinking Of Distilled Water.”
"During nearly 19 years of clinical practice I have had the opportunity to observe the health effects of drinking different types of water. Most of you would agree that drinking unfiltered tap water could be hazardous to your health because of things like parasites, chlorine, fluoride and dioxins. Many health fanatics, however, are often surprised to hear me say that drinking distilled water on a regular, daily basis is potentially dangerous. Paavo Airola wrote about the dangers of distilled water in the 1970’s when it first became a fad with the health food crowd."
Is pure, demineralized water safe drinking water?
While demineralized water produced by reverse osmosis or distillation may be as close to pure, molecular H2O as possible, most medical professionals agree that it is not natural nor healthy and the pros often outweigh the cons. What’s interesting is that current drinking water regulations are centered around ensuring safe drinking water by the removal or reduction of harmful contaminants. There are no regulations to ensure safe drinking water from the viewpoint of what minerals important to our health are left in the water that we drink. Historically, industry has pushed and developed technologies to strip water to its core, believing “pure” water to be, by default – better. However, as we all learn at some point in our lives, more does not necessarily mean better. Many leading experts and organizations, including the WHO are starting to look more closely at the importance of leaving naturally occurring minerals in our drinking water. One of these experts is František Kožíšek, M.D., Ph.D. with the Polish National Institute of Public Health. Dr. Kožíšek’s report “Health Significance of Drinking Water Calcium and Magnesium” is one of the most thorough and eye-opening discussions on the topic of minerals and safe drinking water published to date. Our bodies have evolved over thousands of years drinking water with a wide variety of dissolved minerals, most of which play very important roles in our overall health, many of which we are just now starting to understand. Reverse osmosis and distillation strip away these natural occurring minerals, creating a highly aggressive, unstable form of water that has been proven to have a negative effect on our health for a wide variety of reasons.
What are the potential health consequences of drinking demineralized water?
The WHO Report “Health Risks from Drinking Demineralised Water” concludes in part that:
"Sufficient evidence is now available to confirm the health consequences from drinking water deficient in calcium or magnesium. Many studies show that higher water magnesium is related to decreased risks for CVD and especially for sudden death from Cardiovascular Disease (CVD). This relationship has been independently described in epidemiological studies with different study designs, performed in different areas, different populations, and at different times.
In addition to an increased risk of sudden death, it has been suggested that intake of water low in magnesium may be associated with a higher risk of motor neuronal disease, pregnancy disorders (so-called preeclampsia), sudden death in infants, and some types of cancer.
Recent studies suggest that the intake of soft water, i.e. water low in calcium, is associated with a higher risk of fracture in children, certain neurodegenerative cardiovascular diseases, pre-term birth and low weight at birth and some types of cancer."
At Elua, great tasting, safe drinking water is at the heart of our philosophy. How do you define "safe drinking water"?