Mineral water- does it do a body good- or not?
October 2, 2011 7:20 AM   Subscribe

In general, are the minerals in mineral rich water easily assimilated by our bodies?

I'm not finding many scientific sources for answers in my searching. I found this statement, "Scientifically, according to Dr. A. Passebecq, minerals must be in organic form, and then pass through the plants to be able to properly assimilate by humans.".

But then I also found some statements that purport ionic minerals (dissolved in water or in a water-soluble form, as opposed to a colloid, which is a suspension) are assimilated more quickly and efficiently into the body than colloidal minerals.

There are no scientific references to back either side up from the sources I found. If I were to guess, I would think that minerals in this very elemental form would - in general- be more easily taken up and used by the body. I understand that conditions such as the presence (or lack of) other substances could further enhance or inhibit the uptake of the minerals in mineral rich water. (The presence of certain vitamins or helpful bacteria may enhance bio-availability, for example). I would also guess that if your body is deficient in certain minerals, some sort of mechanism would kick in to help you uptake it more easily. Just curious if anyone has some solid evidence to support or refute my theories.
posted by Mimidae to Science & Nature (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Yes they are absorbed. Go to Google scholar and search "magnesium mineral water" for a number of studies.
posted by blargerz at 8:43 AM on October 2, 2011

"Scientifically, according to Dr. A. Passebecq, minerals must be in organic form, and then pass through the plants to be able to properly assimilate by humans."

I don't know what "properly" or "more easily" mean, but here is some evidence showing that the ionic forms of calcium and magnesium found in drinking water significantly reduce the chances of death from myocardial infarction. 1 2 3.

The DRIs make no reference to the superiority of a source of intake for magnesium p. 195 and mention oxalic acid --an organic acids that are found in some plants like spinach and rubarb -- and phytic acid -- an organic acid found in soybeans-- as being detrimental for absorption, in regards to calcium p. 73. However, with the calcium they do note that the bio-availability from different sources was not considered in the DRI recommendations.

The body can adjust its absorption of some minerals like calcium and iron depending on its need, but this done through the intestines, and has only a limited effect on absorption. (note: cravings for foods do not correlate in a meaningful way with nutritional deficiencies.) There is also a variance in the absorption of some other minerals based on what they are consumed with. Again iron absorption is enhanced with vitamin C, and calcium absorption is enhanced with vitamin D.

Do not rely on mineral water alone as your source of minerals, you will die if you do.
posted by 517 at 9:29 AM on October 2, 2011

The Calcium link should go here.
posted by 517 at 9:30 AM on October 2, 2011

Look at it this way: if they weren't easily absorbable, why would they have such a strong taste-- to me absolutely foul-- at such low concentrations?

Potable water has always been fairly hard to come by, and if dissolved minerals were biologically impotent, there would have been strong selective pressure to make their flavor unremarkable.
posted by jamjam at 10:06 AM on October 2, 2011

Let's not get hung up on the terminology, which is trying to fancify something that's pretty mundane. "Ionic" minerals just means the presence of water-soluble salts. When salts dissolve in water, their molecules dissociate into the metallic and acidic ions they're composed of.

So, water with added salt can be said to contain "ionic sodium," because the NaCl molecules dissociate into Na+ and Cl- ions in the water. Same with potassium chloride KCl, and so on. I'm looking at the composition of mineral water from one source, and it claims to contain manganese as Mg2+ and calcium as Ca2+, which, I guess, come from water flowing through deposits of calcium and manganese carbonate.

Since water is absorbed in the small intestine and colon, stuff dissolved in that water is absorbed too. Then it's up to your body to figure out what to do with it.

In contrast, "colloidal suspension" is basically water with grit in it. It should make sense that grit doesn't get absorbed by the digestive system.
posted by Nomyte at 10:47 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

I found this statement, "Scientifically, according to Dr. A. Passebecq, minerals must be in organic form, and then pass through the plants to be able to properly assimilate by humans."

This is completely untrue. Is this the page you got it from? It's pretty obvious to me that that is not a good source of information. To start with, it's an unsigned blog post with no links to or information about the studies on which it is based. It also makes sweeping claims and uses empty words like "scientifically" to seem authoritative. In my experience, real scientists don't talk like this.

I wonder about your search methods and your information assessment if this is the sort of source you found. And I'm not saying that to pick on you-- I didn't always know how to find good sources myself. I just want to show you better ways to find answers for your questions.

Doing a quick Google Scholar search for terms like "mineral water absorption" and "mineral water bio-availability" I found a number of studies looking at the ability of the body to absorb minerals from water. For example, this study and this other study both find that the body readily absorbs calcium from mineral water. These are the "scientific references" you want-- published in peer-review journals, full bibliographic information, references, etc. And this is all accessible without subscriptions to any scholarly databases, since the article abstracts provide enough information for your purposes.

Searching for specific dietary minerals yields better results than just a general "mineral absorption search," since most studies are limited in scope. If you wanted to, you could go mineral by mineral, searching for e.g. "mineral water magnesium bioavailability."
posted by bookish at 7:20 AM on October 3, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks folks!
posted by Mimidae at 8:56 PM on October 9, 2011

« Older How can I clean up a stack of Microsoft Word...   |   Credit Union in NYC Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.