How is mineral water any different than bottled water?

Before I started writing this article, I didn’t spend much time thinking about water. I knew that drinking water is a good thing, and drinking activated charcoal water can be a bad thing. But if you asked me the difference is between mineral water and regular water? I had no clue.

It’s pretty obvious that mineral water is, well, water with minerals, but what minerals? Doesn’t all water have minerals? I wanted a concrete definition — I’m talking Scripps National Spelling Bee level, people.

It turns out, some people do know what mineral water is. Those people are the FDA, which actually regulates bottled water. They say that natural mineral waters must contain at least 250 parts per million (ppm) “total dissolved solids,” originating from “a geologically and physically protected underground water source.” In other words, mineral waters have to come out of the earth that way.

Mineral water commonly contains substances like magnesium, calcium, sodium, and zinc, and, according to recent research, they’re actually a pretty effective way to boost your mineral intake. A recent study found that mineral water has some legitimate health benefits.

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At its core, mineral water provides minerals the human body can’t create itself. While you don’t need to drink Fiji Water to get your magnesium RDA, those pricey bottles are a legitimate method of consumption. "Depending on the source, certain mineral waters are a good source of calcium, which is important for bone health," says Mia Syn, MS, RDN of Nutrition by Mia. "The recent study showed that the bioavailability of calcium in mineral waters was comparable or possibly better than that of dairy products, meaning our body can readily absorb and utilize it."

In addition to promoting healthy bone development, the study also notes “significant benefits for healthy digestion” thanks to magnesium sulphate, sodium sulphate, bicarbonate, and chloride.

However, Syn cautions that mineral waters should still be carefully considered, just like any other supplement. "Some mineral waters are high in sodium, which should be minimized in individuals with high blood pressure," she says. "If you are drinking sparkling mineral water, it is important to ensure you stay hydrated in other ways if needed, since the carbonation can be filling and may potentially lower your overall intake."

The researchers found one more benefit of mineral water: It’s delicious. And, as Americans reduce their soda consumption, many people are turning to mineral water (and yes, LaCroix) as a healthful alternative. So while nobody should feel obligated to start buying mineral water by the caseload, this is one product that’s true to its name.