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Minerals in Water

minerals in water, unregulated contaminants in drinking water, is reverse osmosis bad

How Important Are Minerals in Drinking Water?

Some people suggest that reverse osmosis is a 'bad' technology because it removes minerals from your water, however I suggest that:

A Review of Your Water Quality Report May Override Concerns
About Minerals in Your Drinking Water

Minerals or Contaminants: That is Often Your Choice


How important are minerals in drinking water? There’s an authentic debate among wellness professionals about the type of water that is healthiest to drink. Some people advocate water that has naturally occurring minerals. Others suggest drinking low temperature distilled water, as opposed to heat distillation.  The unique conditions affecting your water will determine the type of water filtration you need. Physical characteristics and contamination present in drinking water vary widely. This article will help you weigh the importance of minerals in your water in contrast to the information contained in your local water quality report.

The issue of minerals in water is complex.  The scientific principle of osmosis is that water will move from an area of lower (solute) concentration to an area of higher (solute) concentration.1  In other words, water that is void of minerals is more hydrating because it will more readily cross the cell membranes in your body.2 

You may have heard that distilled water and water produced by reverse osmosis are ‘dead,’ due to the intensity of the processing and the lack of minerals.  However, measuring the energy of reverse osmosis water disputes this argument.3  The notion of ‘dead’ water is a misnomer that you should disregard.  This is one of those silly internet rumors that has no basis in fact.

Water has been demonstrated to have a healthy condition, and it may be true that water’s physical condition, specifically the angle of the bonds between water molecules, is affected by transport in pipes and by filtration.4  Another objection to drinking either distilled or RO water is that both will be acidic. This is easily countered with the addition of a filter to raise pH.  Numerous water treatment salespeople claim to ‘remineralize’ RO water but tests show a rise in pH only and no significant increase in mineral content from any of these filters.

Some wellness professionals advise drinking spring water. Spring water has minerals and is thought to be naturally vibrant – if it has not been conveyed in a pipe. Mineral content has been show to be beneficial by a number of independent studies funded by the World Health Organization. These studies indicate that people who drink water containing minerals suffer lower rates of heart disease than people who drink water lacking minerals.5

My own research contradicts this. I looked at the rate of heart disease in the U.S. cities with the lowest levels of minerals (aka tds). These include Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and Denver. See research    That research clearly illustrates that there is no correlation whatsoever between low tds water and heart disease in these U.S. cities. The faulty WHO studies make no account whatsoever for other factors including air pollution, lifestyle, and happiness.

Spring waters can vary widely in water quality and mineral content. Mineral content is measured as total dissolved solids (tds).  EPA suggests an upper limit for tds of 500 ppm for drinking water. This is because water with a high mineral content is not hydrating. In my opinion tds of 300 is too high. River water often has a tds between 180 - 220 and in my opinion this is ideal.

What does this mean for you?  It means that lower tds water is more hydrating, and that minerals in water may be beneficial, but only when present in relatively low amounts, however, far less than EPA’s limit of 500 ppm.  I like to drink water with a tds between 30 and 250. The RO I sell produces a tds of 30.

Other considerations more important than minerals. For instance the presence of contaminants in your water may have serious health effects. When looking at your water report there is a section which identifies your specific water source. If your water source is a river, and there are cities upstream of your location, then your water will contain a dangerous mix of contaminants, many of which are unregulated.

Recent studies show that the water provided to 43 million Americans contains pharmaceuticals such as hormones, pain killers, and other drugs.6  Even trace amounts of these chemicals can have serious health effects.7  The only treatment proven effective at removal of these contaminants is reverse osmosis.8  Therefore a review of the water source and contaminants in your water quality report will lead you to determine which type of water filtration system will be effective in removing the contaminants present in your water.  These factors will far outweigh the mythological benefit of mineral content.

However this is not to dismiss the importance of minerals. People in the United States are likely to be deficient in magnesium. To counter this I take a supplement every day. Calcium is also important but generally available in your diet. Sodium is something most people get too much of. The lesson I think is to have an idea of your mineral intake and then eat and supplement accordingly.



1) Osmosis. (2011). Wikipedia. Retrieved January 26, 2011, from

2) Hourmanesh, M. personal interview by James McMahon. (2011,January 17). Distilled Water. Retrieved from distilled_water.html

3) Niesen, C. email between Niesen and James McMahon. (2011, January 23). Energy of RO Water. Retrieved from

4) McMahon, J. (2011, January 19). Vibrant Water. Retrieved from

5) Dissanayake, C. (2005, August 05). Of Stones And Health: Medical Geology In Sri Lanka. Science Magazine, 309(5736), Retrieved from

       This is one of 80 studies funded by WHO that show a correlation between minerals in water and heart disease. Still, I have read these and DO NOT see a strong correlation

6) Dell'Amore, C. (2010, February 26). Cocaine, Spices, Hormones Found In Drinking Water. National Geographic News, Retrieved from

7) How meds in water could impact human cells. (2008, March 10). MSNBC, Retrieved from - link has expired

8) Reynolds, K. A. (2003, June). Pharmaceuticals In Drinking Water Supplies. Water Conditioning & Purification Magazine, 45(6), Retrieved from (link has moved)



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