Hard water, healthier water? Does it sound well? Is hard water safe to drink? There are so many questions that arrive in someone’s mind when it comes to healthy living,
The consumption of hard water can help meet the body’s needs for calcium and magnesium
Sometimes the claims made about the alleged properties of water consumption (both positive and negative) are awash with inaccuracies, inaccuracies, and even fallacies that lead us to drink bottled water (which is much more expensive and has a greater environmental impact. ).
Thus, although many consumers believe that mineral waters have “medicinal properties”, the World Health Organization (WHO) considers that there are too many uncertainties in the scientific field to give credence to this belief. This article tries to shed some light on a widespread inaccuracy: that which indicates that the hardness of the water is related to possible damage to health.
Table of Contents
What is the hardness of water?
In 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) titled one of its monographs this way: ” Hardness in drinking water “. In it, it was detailed that, among the substances that determine the hardness of water, calcium and magnesium predominate.
Other cations such as iron, manganese or zinc also contribute to its hardness, but to a lesser extent. This parameter, according to the WHO, is expressed in milligrams of calcium carbonate equivalents per litre. The entity considers that if it is less than 60, it refers to soft water.
Water hardness and flavour
The hardness influences the flavour or the organoleptic properties of the water. In drinking water, the hardness usually ranges from 10 to 500 milligrams of calcium carbonate equivalents per litre. For the WHO, the usual tolerance threshold ranges from 100 to 300 milligrams, although it points out that many consumers accept higher figures (up to 500 mg/litre) without problems.
In fact, it is also common to find people who prefer figures below 100 mg/litre.
Water hardness and health
According to the WHO, water with a hardness greater than 200 mg / l can form scale in pipes, tanks and stains on glass. If it is less than 100 mg / l, it can corrode the pipes in the long term. It is a question that the article ” Water hardness “, published in EROSKI CONSUMER, addressed in 2005.
The question arises, is hard water safe to drink but the human being is neither an electrical appliance nor is it made up of pipes, so it is worth asking if the popular belief that it is dangerous (or “corrosive”) for health to regularly consume hard water is true.
In 1984, the WHO found no convincing scientific evidence that water hardness causes adverse effects in humans. Nor did he find them in 2003, 2008, 2009 or 2011, in the successive reports he has devoted to this issue.
Although many parents give their babies or young children soft waters, the Nutrition Committee of the Spanish Association of Pediatrics considers in its book ‘Practical Manual of Nutrition in Pediatrics’ that there is a lack of evidence that proves an association between water hardness and children’s health.
Water hardness and kidney stones
A scientific review published in August 2013 in the prestigious International Journal of Preventive Medicine coincided with what has been described so far but dedicated a specific section to the supposed relationship between water hardness and kidney stone formation.
In this work, it is detailed that the impact of water hardness in this pathology is “unclear” since the available studies have not observed any association between water hardness and urinary stone formation. In any case, it is possible that in patients who already have kidney stones (which in many cases have an unknown origin), it is useful not to drink hard water often.
In the article ‘Analysis of Spanish bottled and tap water and the implications of its consumption in urinary lithiasis’, available free of charge on the Internet, there is extensive information about it.
Calcium and magnesium in the water
The WHO indicates that hard waters can contribute to the intake of calcium and magnesium, minerals related to the prevention of osteoporosis and cardiovascular events. In fact, he points out that drinking hard water often could protect cardiovascular risk in the long term, while consuming soft water could have negative effects on the body’s mineral balance.
However, the scientific evidence is not of high quality, so this entity has not issued any recommendation in this regard. The latest WHO report ( 2009) on the relationship between calcium and magnesium in water with health details that, according to the available evidence, the water should contain a minimum of between 25-50 mg / L of magnesium, to prevent arteriosclerosis.
In any case, the benefit of magnesium would only be clear in people with very low intakes of magnesium in their regular diet (something that happens frequently in countries with low per capita income).
How to Treat Hard Water?
In the research by Vitoria et al., Cited above, it is indicated that we have no evidence of the hypothetical health benefits of these methods, but something else is added: ion exchange can remove up to 89.4% of calcium from water, while reverse osmosis removes between 94% and 98% of the calcium and magnesium from the water.
In sum, there is no scientific evidence to confirm the widespread belief that hard water is harmful to health. OR hard water is not safe to drink. Studies are lacking to confirm the possible beneficial effects that hard water would have on bone and cardiovascular health, but we do know that they can contribute to covering the requirements of calcium and magnesium.