Is filtered water better than the bottled or tap water? What are the various benefits of bottled water in comparison with tap water?
In this article, we will compare the two and discover a scientific answer to our questions. The study done in this article is in America and Europe, but it also valid for any other parts of the world.
Before analyzing the individual sources of drinking water, it is crucial to understand the nutrition contribution of the drinking water. There are lots of people who drink mineral water because they believe that it can be more healthful. But what are those?
In 2005, there was a conference held by the World Health Organization (WHO), which gathered all the experts from different parts of the world. During the conference, various information was shared regarding the 80 epidemiology studies of different water quality for the past 50 years. The studies answered questions about the consumption of hard water. It also aimed to answer the impact of water on health—moreover, the conference aimed to reduce the people's ischemic cardiovascular health problems.
Indeed, the water supplies for the bottled and tap water can differ in their mineral contents. Some can contribute to the appreciable amounts of minerals due to intentional additions, natural conditions, and leaching from pipes. Meanwhile, many can provide lesser amounts of essential minerals and nutrients.
With these considerations, the nutrients found in the drinking water which of particular interest are the following:
- Calcium- This mineral is essential in the development of bones and maintaining cardiovascular health.
- Magnesium- This is needed in promoting cardiovascular and bone health.
- Fluoride- This mineral is effective in avoiding dental health problems.
- Sodium-This is an essential extracellular electrolyte that can be lost by the body due to excessive sweating.
- Copper-This is an important antioxidant that functions to protect cardiovascular health and promotes iron utilization.
- Selenium-This type of nutrient is essential in protecting the immune system and promotes the overall antioxidant function.
- Potassium-This is essential in various biochemical effects. However, potassium might not be found in natural drinking water sources at significant levels.
2005 WHO conference concluded that the beneficial hypothesis of hard water is valid. If the hard water has more minerals on it, then it can reduce several cardiovascular diseases. Moreover, they have recommended that magnesium might be one of the positive contributors to several water benefits.
For the past years, the mineral and bottled water industry has made us believe that their water is the best and healthiest option. But are they any scientific proof to support this claim?
In the European legislation, their stand is that the natural mineral waters are from an underground reservoir or aquifer. It springs from one or many natural sources. It has hygienic features, which also include nutritional properties.
Benefits of Mineral Water
Various studies are focused on the positive health effects of different minerals in the bottled water. These include bicarbonate, magnesium, calcium, iron sulfate, chloride, or mixtures thereof.
Indeed, these minerals are healthy. However, it does not necessarily signify that mineral water is healthier than other water types. Food or tap water with these minerals will also give similar health benefits:
- Chloride-vegetables and rock salt
- Magnesium-Spinach, black beans, and banana
- Calcium-Almonds, kale, broccoli, and dairy
- Potassium-Potato, banana, zucchini, and broccoli
- Sulfate- Garlic, eggs, kale, and broccoli
- Iron- Broccoli, nuts, spinach, and dried fruits
For areas where people lack varied fruits and vegetables with the mineral content the same as the drinking water can dictate the difference, as stated by the 2005 conference of the WHO.
Negative Aspects of Drinking Bottled Water
Various studies focused their attention on mineral bottled water’s safety. Specifically on the chemicals’ migration from the container to water. This also involves microbial contaminants and microplastics.
Endocrine Disruptors and Plasticizers
Endocrine disruptors or EDs are the chemicals that hamper the function of the endocrine system. Meanwhile, plasticizers are the additives used to impart handling properties and flexibility of various kinds of plastics. These are the main compounds of plastic containers which can bring negative effects on human health.
One major concern regarding mineral bottled water is its release of chemicals from the container into the water. Examples of these are plasticizers which are also present even in PET bottles.
Moreover, endocrine disruptors provide another alarming issue in bottled water. The experts researched the exposure of chemicals with activities similar to estrogen in the bottled water. In a study done by pinto, there were 30 samples in Italian water sources stored in the PET bottles. The results show that 90% of the water samples provide an estrogenic activity which is 10% lower than the activity of the reference model.
On the other hand, in an analysis done in the German mineral water, which is also stored in PET glass and TetraPak bottles, it has been found out that it demonstrates a significantly high estrogenic activity from 10 to 20 brands.
A recent study involving Vivo experiments and bioanalytical techniques used the molluscan model to know the bottled water’s estrogenicity. It has been found out that the bottled water estrogenic activity from the PET containers is twice versus the products from the glass bottles.
Furthermore, the University of Granada studies the 29 plastic bottles and glass sold to consumers in Southern Spain. All of the water samples analyzed showed that there are endocrine-disrupting chemicals that can alter hormonal activity.
Moreover, estrogens at pollutant levels cause prostate cancer for men and breast cancer for women. Estrogens can affect fish physiology too. Finally, it can alter the reproductive development of both wild and domestic animals.
Microplastics Found in the Bottled Water
Apart from the EDs and plasticizers, it has been found out that microplastics are on 92% of the bottled water. The water bottles contain 314.6 plastic particles for each liter. In a bottle, there are around 10,000 plastic particles for each liter. For the microplastic debris, which is measures around 100 microns, the sample contains twice microplastics for each liter versus the tap water samples.
Tap water and bottled water can also contain microbial contaminants. People who have had AIDS or have a sensitive immune system are vulnerable to the microbial contaminants in the drinking water. An example of this is the Cryptosporidium. One way to avoid waterborne cryptosporidiosis, you can bring your drinking water. You can use a water filter or boil the water for at least one minute.
In the past years, people are questioning the quality of tap water. People were warned of drinking the public tap water because sensitive stomachs might have difficulty adapting to the bacteria culture. With the growing interest in health, studies about water contaminants have changed the scenario.
We are correct to be concerned and be aware of the fluid that we drink every day. What is alarming is that many people have given up drinking tap water and resulted in bottled water because of various reasons.
In reality, water treatment and water regulation have improved in the past years. The quality of tap water is even better today. Examples of recent development include filtering, stringent regulation, and monitoring of the nitrates level.
Is Tap Water Healthy?
Daily intake of tap water, which is around 2 to 3 liters, can provide >1% recommended daily intake of four minerals. These are 10% of copper, 6% of calcium, 5% magnesium, and 3% of sodium. The maximum concentration can supply the body with 23% of Mg, 20% Ca, 33% Na, and 10% Zn.
Tap water can be a great source of magnesium which is an essential mineral of the body. It can support the immune system and blood cell turnover.
Drinking at least 2 liters of tap water in some areas can fulfill 6 to 18% of the recommended daily intake of calcium. The majority of water providers provide online water quality reports. They include the contaminants, minerals, and other substances found on it.
Risks of Drinking Tap Water
The drinking water is delivered through 7 million kilometers of pipes. Many of the pipes are installed by the beginning of the 20th century, with a lifespan of only 75 to 100 years. As such, we would have to double the annual investment to modernize the infrastructure. This can also protect health and the environment. This can also reduce the costs to some extent.
In 2009, it was found out that 25% of the domestic households have a lead pipe. This is either a connection to the internal plumbing or a connection to the main water line. This can put the lives of 120 million people at risk of consuming lead from their drinking water.
According to a study done by the United States, there is no safe level of lead in the human body. It can provide health impacts, expose the child, and make its management difficult to do.
Some reports reveal increased colorectal cancer when people are exposed to chlorinated drinking water or its derivatives. There is also evidence that shows that the disinfection by-products of the drinking water can be associated with colorectal cancer.
This meta-analysis indicates that the best available epidemiological evidence still indicates that long-term chlorinated water consumption can be associated with bladder cancer, which is true for men.
A 2012 study done by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has outlined the available evidence linked to maternal-fetal health and lead exposure. Although it does not recommend routine blood-lead sampling for pregnant women, it advises lactating and pregnant women whose blood levels exceed at some point in their lives.
For the past years, there are alerts regarding birth control pills and other pharmaceuticals in the water. Although the risk of birth control pills has already been debunked, there are some pharmaceuticals that you need to be aware of. For example, livestock production accounts for 90% of the estrogen in the environment and the water supply, including bottled water. The 10% comes from the industrial chemicals used to manufacture synthetic estrogens like BPA, used in fertilizers on crops.
Meanwhile, recent studies concluded that estrogen from tap water could pose a small risk versus other sources like unpasteurized milk.
In a nutshell, all water types are generally safe to drink. Thus, the choice is about eliminating the risk and improving the long-term health benefits of the people. It is impossible to eliminate the risk. Since gauging risk is challenging, safety is essential to manage the risk to a reasonable degree. This is true since you cannot eliminate the dangers of unwanted chemicals in the water.
As such, tap water and bottled water offer almost the same minerals which are helpful for the body. If you are doubtful about the water source at your home, you can invest in installing the Berkey Water Filters now. The Berkey Water Filters will not remove the essential minerals in the water, but they can remove lead and mercury.