Americans seem to carry bottled water everywhere they go these days. In fact, it has become the second most popular drink (behind soft drinks). But water lovers got a jolt recently when we heard that a new report had found that the benefits of drinking water may have been oversold. Apparently, the old suggestion to drink eight glasses a day was nothing more than a guideline, not based on scientific evidence.
An, R. The Official Journal of the British Dietetic Association, published online Feb. 22, 2016.;News release, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.;CDC: “Finding a Balance.”
MICHAEL SMITH: It sounds too
good to be true.
Just drinking more water
can help you lose weight.
But that’s what researchers
Drinking as little as 1%
means you’ll eat fewer calories.
You’ll also benefit from a drop
in saturated fat, sugar, sodium,
One extra cup of H2O in a day
will save you 68 calories.
And you don’t have to do this
every day to get the savings.
Drink three extra cups,
and you’ll cut
your calorie intake by 205.
To put it in perspective,
that’s as many calories
as you’d burn if you walked two
and a half miles.
Now, you can’t just lie around
on the couch all day
and chug a gallon of water
You still need to keep up
those healthy habits.
And no word on what
happens if you drink more
than three cups,
except for spending
a lot of time in the bathroom.
And this doesn’t mean you can
eat more, just that you’re more
likely to eat less.
But that walk to the water
cooler gets you a lot further
than you thought.
For WebMD, I’m Dr. Michael
But don’t put your water bottle or glass down just yet. While we may not need eight glasses, there are plenty of reasons to drink water. In fact, drinking water (either plain or in the form of other fluids or foods) is essential to your health.
“Think of water as a nutrient your body needs that is present in liquids, plain water, and foods. All of these are essential daily to replace the large amounts of water lost each day,” says Joan Koelemay, RD, dietitian for the Beverage Institute, an industry group.
Kaiser Permanente nephrologist Steven Guest, MD, agrees: “Fluid losses occur continuously, from skin evaporation, breathing, urine, and stool, and these losses must be replaced daily for good health,” he says.
When your water intake does not equal your output, you can become dehydrated. Fluid losses are accentuated in warmer climates, during strenuous exercise, in high altitudes, and in older adults, whose sense of thirst may not be as sharp.
Here are six reasons to make sure you’re drinking enough water or other fluids every day:
1. Drinking Water Helps Maintain the Balance of Body Fluids. Your body is composed of about 60% water. The functions of these bodily fluids include digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients, and maintenance of body temperature.
“Through the posterior pituitary gland, your brain communicates with your kidneys and tells it how much water to excrete as urine or hold onto for reserves,” says Guest, who is also an adjunct professor of medicine at Stanford University.
When you’re low on fluids, the brain triggers the body’s thirst mechanism. And unless you are taking medications that make you thirsty, Guest says, you should listen to those cues and get yourself a drink of water, juice, milk, coffee — anything but alcohol.
“Alcohol interferes with the brain and kidney communication and causes excess excretion of fluids which can then lead to dehydration,” he says.
2. Water Can Help Control Calories. For years, dieters have been drinking lots of water as a weight loss strategy. While water doesn’t have any magical effect on weight loss, substituting it for higher calorie beverages can certainly help.
“What works with weight loss is if you choose water or a non-caloric beverage over a caloric beverage and/or eat a diet higher in water-rich foods that are healthier, more filling, and help you trim calorie intake,” says Penn State researcher Barbara Rolls, PhD, author of The Volumetrics Weight Control Plan.
Food with high water content tends to look larger, its higher volume requires more chewing, and it is absorbed more slowly by the body, which helps you feel full. Water-rich foods include fruits, vegetables, broth-based soups, oatmeal, and beans.
3. Water Helps Energize Muscles. Cells that don’t maintain their balance of fluids and electrolytes shrivel, which can result in muscle fatigue. “When muscle cells don’t have adequate fluids, they don’t work as well and performance can suffer,” says Guest.
Drinking enough fluids is important when exercising. Follow the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines for fluid intake before and during physical activity. These guidelines recommend that people drink about 17 ounces of fluid about two hours before exercise. During exercise, they recommend that people start drinking fluids early, and drink them at regular intervals to replace fluids lost by sweating.
4. Water Helps Keep Skin Looking Good. Your skin contains plenty of water, and functions as a protective barrier to prevent excess fluid loss. But don’t expect over-hydration to erase wrinkles or fine lines, says Atlanta dermatologist Kenneth Ellner, MD.
“Dehydration makes your skin look more dry and wrinkled, which can be improved with proper hydration,” he says. “But once you are adequately hydrated, the kidneys take over and excrete excess fluids.”
You can also help “lock” moisture into your skin by using moisturizer, which creates a physical barrier to keep moisture in.
5. Water Helps Your Kidneys. Body fluids transport waste products in and out of cells. The main toxin in the body is blood urea nitrogen, a water-soluble waste that is able to pass through the kidneys to be excreted in the urine, explains Guest. “Your kidneys do an amazing job of cleansing and ridding your body of toxins as long as your intake of fluids is adequate,” he says.
When you’re getting enough fluids, urine flows freely, is light in color and free of odor. When your body is not getting enough fluids, urine concentration, color, and odor increases because the kidneys trap extra fluid for bodily functions.
If you chronically drink too little, you may be at higher risk for kidney stones, especially in warm climates, Guest warns.
6. Water Helps Maintain Normal Bowel Function. Adequate hydration keeps things flowing along your gastrointestinal tract and prevents constipation. When you don’t get enough fluid, the colon pulls water from stools to maintain hydration — and the result is constipation.
“Adequate fluid and fiber is the perfect combination, because the fluid pumps up the fiber and acts like a broom to keep your bowel functioning properly,” says Koelemay.
If you think you need to be drinking more, here are some tips to increase your fluid intake and reap the benefits of water:
If your home has hard water — water with a high mineral content — as many homes do, you are no doubt familiar with its downsides. Hello spotty glasses, soap that doesn’t lather, dry skin, dull hair, stains on porcelain and gunky-looking buildup around faucets and pipes.
Over the years, concerns have also been raised about hard water and its impact on a host of health issues including heart disease, fertility, Alzheimer’s disease, digestive issues and, most recently, eczema.
Ronny Priefer, PhD, professor of medicinal chemistry at Western New England University in Springfield, MA, says hard water and health is a murky area of study. “There is plenty of conflicting evidence in literature,” he says. “Some scientists say there are health benefits; others say hard water harms health, and then there’s a group that claims no effect.”
Water hardness is determined by mineral content. “Over sixty percent of the water that we consume is groundwater,” explains Priefer. “As water percolates through layers of rock, sand and soil, it gathers minerals. The higher the concentration of minerals, which include magnesium and calcium, the harder the water is.
One way hard water can benefit people, say experts, is by making up for the lack of calcium and magnesium they get from their diets. Not getting enough of these critical nutrients through foods is a problem for many Americans and can impact a person’s health. Inadequate intake of calcium, for instance, is linked with osteoporosis and high blood pressure. Magnesium deficiency, meanwhile, can trigger cardiac arrhythmias and Type 2 diabetes, among other health conditions.
In areas with naturally “soft” water supplies — such as the Colorado Mountains, where water comes from melting glacial ice and contains very little calcium or magnesium — people are often advised to add calcium and magnesium supplements to their diets, says Priefer. However, many people prefer soft water because it makes soap sudsier, gets clothes cleaner and is less corrosive. In areas with naturally hard water, homeowners sometimes add a filter to soften the water to remove magnesium and calcium.
But while drinking hard water might help increase our overall magnesium and calcium levels, to what extent does hard water improve or harm our health? In 2006, both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) gathered a large contingent of experts from around the world to share scientific and medical findings regarding the safety of the world’s water supply, which included the impact of hard water on health. Report findings from both WHO and NIH stated that hard water has no known adverse health effects. Their report also said that magnesium in drinking water seems to have protective qualities for the heart, but most other positive associations need more study.
The NIH also addressed the epidemiological observations showing a relationship between drinking hard water and the risk for cardiovascular disease, growth retardation, and reproductive failure due to exposure to mineral content. They responded to these findings by saying that “many factors — including the acidity of the water — influence the reabsorption of calcium and magnesium in the body.”
Similarly, the NIH addressed epidemiological studies linking areas where hard water is consumed with lowered rates of osteoporosis and reduced gastric cancer risk. Their response: “These disease patterns can be explained by social, climatological and environmental factors — rather than the hardness of the water.”
They had the same response after reviewing studies linking magnesium with a mild to moderate protection against esophageal and ovarian cancer.
And what about the alleged link between hard water and Alzheimer’s? In this case aluminum — another mineral found in hard water — is the substance being called into question. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, studies have failed to confirm a direct link between Alzheimer’s and everyday exposure to aluminum, which is also used to make beverage cans and is an ingredient in antacids and baking soda. For now, the risk to brain health appears to be due to exposure to extremely high amounts of aluminum.
“The NIH found in certain circumstances, such as a person who works in an occupation where there is massive exposure to aluminum — and then presents with symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s disease — the brain pathology looks similar to someone with Alzheimer’s disease,” says Priefer. “But there is no evidence that aluminum causes Alzheimer’s.” He adds: “The amount of aluminum — even in the hardest of water — is scant. Even over a lifetime, it would be nearly impossible to consume too much aluminum from drinking water. Large quantities would induce severe vomiting and other intestinal functions.”
Fertility concerns related to hard water were also unfounded, says Priefer, who says there’s no research to support claims that hard water reduces the quality or quantity of sperm.
“However, there is an interesting study from the UK which shows hard water exacerbates the symptoms of eczema in infants, and increases the frequency of the outbreaks,” adds Priefer.
If you are curious about the mineral content of your water, Priefer suggests contacting your local government. They might be able to provide this info or put you in touch with the municipal treatment facility. Or, you can test your home’s water supply yourself. “There are do-it-yourself kits readily available at Home Depot and Lowes,” says Priefer.
Ann Matturro Gault is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in national magazines and many websites. She lives with her four kids, dog, cat and spouse in New Jersey.
Water purification, filtration and conditioning is confusing. For a life-giving substance that is supremely simple in actuality, water quickly becomes complicated when you try to push it through pipes and disperse it safely to millions of people. While it stands to reason that harmful toxins, parasites and chemicals need to be removed from water, what about “soft” and “hard” water? What do these terms mean and how might they relate to you? Should you invest in water softening or conditioning technology? Before you run off in frustration and set up camp by a pristine mountain stream in the middle of nowhere, realize that there are water solutions for everyone- it is just a matter of sorting through the vast amounts of information out there to figure out which one works best for you.
“Hard Water” is so named because it contains considerable amounts of dissolved mineral and metal ions. Because water is a universally powerful solvent, it easily picks up such impurities as it travels through soil and rock before being pumped up from a personal well or otherwise redirected into the municipal water supply. Derived mostly from sedimentary rocks, seepage and soil run-off, the primary elements found in hard water are calcium and magnesium, although barium, strontium, zinc, iron, aluminum, and sulfur are also minor contributors. Because calcium generally predominates this mix, the degree of “hardness” is most commonly measured in terms of milligrams of calcium carbonate per liter of water. Any water sample containing less than 60 mg/L is considered “soft,” whereas anything greater than that is “hard” (1).
Hard water is actually a relatively common phenomenon, with one U.S Geological survey revealing that it is experienced in more than 85% of the country. Although hard water is not considered dangerous, there are some issues that make it problematic for home owners and quite pesky to deal with from both an aesthetic and maintenance perspective.
Interferes with the effectiveness of soap and detergents
If you remember from the fuzzy days of basic chemistry classes, ions are atoms or groups of atoms that have an uneven amount of electrons, making them relatively reactive. The spunky metallic ions in hard water often bind with various components in soap, impeding its foaming action and rendering it largely ineffective at removing soil or bacteria. What’s more, this binding reaction forms a precipitate that remains long after you have completed your scrubbing and rinsed the soap bubbles away. This lovely byproduct is what we might call “gross gray scum.” Clothes laundered in it can be stiff and dishes spotty. Because you must use more soap and detergent to clean anything remotely well in hard water, there are also environmental concerns about the contamination brought on by such excessive use of harsh cleaning products (2).
Can be destructive to plumbing
Put simply, mineral deposits can begin to stick to the surfaces of pipes causing a build up known as scale. This generally occurs when hot water is heated and in small quantities this is harmless. However, over time this insoluble material, otherwise known as scale, can accumulate and coat pipes as well as the insides of appliances such that water flow is restricted and function declines. Thus repairs must be made more frequently and efforts to prevent clogging more closely monitored (3).
Requires more energy to heat water
Deposits also frequently develop in hot water heaters, creating a coating that impedes heat transfer to the water. This insulating effect can be problematic because the water is not heated as easily, and more energy is required to do the job. This inefficiency can add up, creating significant waste and causing a significant increase in energy bills. Scale can also develop on dishware, pots and pans- making heating things evenly on the stove more difficult (3).
Because of these issues, some people opt for systems that remove hard ions from their water, resulting in a more smooth and gentle water. Conventionally, this is done through mechanisms known as salt-based water softeners, which exchange hard calcium (Ca+) and magnesium (Mg+) ions with “soft” sodium ions. This is done by filtering water through a chamber that contains a bed of resin or plastic (polymer) beads, which have been saturated with sodium (Na+), or on occasion potassium (K+). As the water passes through, the Ca+ and Mg+ ions essentially stick to the beads, while Na+ or K+ ions are simultaneously released into the water. However, just as there are problems with hard water, there are also issues with these water softeners.
Eliminates health-preserving minerals
Having minerals in your water is not necessarily a bad thing. After all, people pay lots of money to sip effervescent Italian mineral waters from green glass bottles. Minerals not only grant water with certain characteristic tastes, but they also supply a notable amount of health benefits. Interestingly, certain studies have found that people receive anywhere from 5-20% of their daily calcium and magnesium intake from the water they drink (1). While this may seem like a nominal contribution, in an era of rampant magnesium deficiency and generalized mineral imbalance, completely eliminating this source may not be desirable.
Several large-scale studies have reported that hard-water has an inverse association with cardiovascular disease. While it seems promising that hard water may be helpful in reducing risk for heart disease (likely because of the magnesium content), no distinct causal relationship has been formed and other small studies have found varying results on the matter (1, 4). Although more research needs to be done, it follows basic logic that removing any natural sources of minerals in our often nutrient-bereft diets would be detrimental to health outcomes overall. The following paragraph from Nourishing Traditions, articulates this point perfectly:
“The evidence points to hard water, which is water rich in mineral ions, as being of great value in promoting overall health. Several studies have shown that the rate of coronary heart disease is lower in localities where hard water is available. Areas of the world noted for longevity of local inhabitants – notably the Caucasus, Hunzaland and Vilcabamba in South America – are all watered by richly mineralized runoff from grinding action of high mountain glaciers.”
Traditional water softening systems discharge a significant amount of sodium and corrosive salt brine into municipal sewer lines, making it far more difficult for sanitation departments to clean and recycle the water. In areas where there is a lot of agriculture requiring irrigation, this is particularly problematic. States like California and Texas, along with others, have even passed legislation banning these systems, with more than 25 communities in the state of California having already banned or greatly restricted the use of these water softeners. In addition, many traditional softeners use a backwashing filtration pattern, which can result in wasting thousands of gallons of water per year.
Undesirable Water Quality
It is up for debate as to whether or not the amount of sodium (or possibly potassium) released into conventionally softened water is hazardous to health. Some experts caution against it, while others reply that there is not a large enough quantity to cause any real issue. Oddly enough, most do agree that you should avoid watering your lawn and plants with softened water due to the harsh sodium content. Also, while people seem to generally enjoy the smooth feel of softened water for bathing, others find that it can be undesirably slimy and difficult to rinse- a quality that is difficult to control.
When it comes to the questions of water softeners, it is clear that treatment options come with their own pros and cons. Arguments can be made on either side, but what it truly comes down to is that the decision on how to filter, purify or otherwise treat water is largely personal. It is important to be an informed consumer and to weigh your various options as water systems are crucial to the health of your family and can also be a significant investment.
As always, it is first most beneficial to know precisely what is in your water so that you can move forward with the greatest degree of knowledge and deduce the most effective methods for your living situation. If you are on municipal water, there should be regular district reports that may disclose the degree of hardness and other facts about your water. Be aware that many communities do not report on water hardness, as it is not an EPA requirement. You can test your water independently using a water testing kit.
Based on this testing data you have to decide on what your personal goals are for your household water. Is your primary goal to have healthy water everywhere in your home, to decrease the burden on your plumbing, to remove toxins in drinking water? There is no right or wrong answer here- everyone has different objectives, budgets, family size, and living situations.
If among these goals you determine that you need to take some measures to soften your water, one solution is a water softener. However, other technologies exist, such as No-Scale Water Conditioners that can help to reduce the risk of build-up in plumbing without resorting to a sodium or potassium based ion exchange system (a water softener). Please note that a water conditioner does not soften your water. Both water softeners and conditioners can be used in concert with a Whole House Water Filtration System to supply clean, fresh, balanced water throughout your home. Conversely, if you already have an ion exchange water softener or think that installing one may be the right choice at this time, be sure to consider products such as Anderson’s Mineral Drops that can be added into the water to give you properly balanced and remineralized water.
If you have additional questions about water, visit our Water Resource Center or fill out our Online Water Assessment Tool and a member of our water research team will be happy to start a discussion about your personal needs.
The Triangular Wave
| THE WATER STORY & HEART DISEASE|
Source: HEALTHY WATER Martin Fox, Ph.D.
Over the years many studies have been published on the relationship between drinking water and cardiovascular mortality. Two beneficial factors continually stand out – hardness and total
The first major study on drinking water and heart disease was in 1960 by Schroeder. In his paper, “Relation Between Mortality from Cardiovascular Disease and Treated Water Supplies,” the water in 163 largest cities in the United States was analyzed for 21 constituents and correlated to heart disease. He concluded “some factor either present in hard water, or missing or entering in soft water is associated with higher death rates from degenerative
In 1979 after reviewing fifty studies, Comstock concluded, “there can be little doubt that the associations of water hardness with cardiovascular mortality are not spurious.
Too many studies have reported statistically significant correlations to make chance or sampling errors a likely
Today after thirty years of research we are left with Schroeder’s initial conclusion-drinking hard water results in less cardiovascular disease than drinking soft water.
Yet over the years there have been several published reports analyzing specific elements in drinking water and their possible
In most cases the harder the water, the more Ca and Mg is in the water. However several interesting studies indicate that Mg might be the more important of the two elements.
Professor Ragnar Rylader notes that studies in Switzerland, Germany and Sweden show that when the Mg in drinking water exceeds 10-15
Before highlighting some of the major studies, let’s discuss TDS, total dissolved solids. TDS is a measurement of all the minerals in drinking water. TDS not only includes calcium and magnesium (the hardness factors), but also zinc, copper, chromium, selenium and so on. Sauer analyzed .23 drinking water characteristics in 92
cities (“Relationship. of Water to the Risk of Dying”) and found people who drank water higher in TDS had lower death rates from heart disease, cancer, and chronic diseases than people who drank water with lower amounts of
Frequently, where the water is hard, the water is also high in TDS. Although most studies on heart disease have not looked at
The more we try to isolate and study the impact of individual minerals the more we can lose sight of the unifying,
Let’s look at some of the major studies. In Great Britain, the British Regional Heat Study analyzed 253 towns from 1969 to 1973. They found 10% to 15% more cardiovascular deaths in soft water areas than in hard water areas. They suggest that the ideal amount of hardness is approximately 170 m~IL (or
In the United States, Greathouse and Osborne studied 4200 adults, ages 25 to 74 in 35 different geographic areas. Their
Sometimes, the best experiments are those nature has been silent-ly conducting for years. Some of the most revealing water studies highlight two neighboring towns in which one town alters its hard water to create a softer water. What are the results of this action? A higher rate of heart disease mortality. We see this in the English towns of Scunthrope and Grimsby. Both towns drank the same water with 444 mg/L of hardness and had identical heart disease mortality rates. Scunthrope softened its water to 100 mg/L of hardness and within a few years a striking increase in cardiovascular deaths occurred. Whereas in Grimsby the rate was virtually the same as it had been. (51) This pattern has also been reported in the Italian towns of Crevalcore and Montegiorgio and the Abruzzo region of Italy. (31) (44)
The National Academy of Sciences concluded, “An optimum conditioning of drinking water could reduce the amount of cardio-vascular disease mortality by as much as 15% in the U. S.”(37) When looking at the research, two facts stand out. First, there is a definite relationship, a clear association between water hardness and heart disease mortality. We should try to drink water that has approximately 170 mWL of hardness; the level found ideal in Great Britain. Second, there is a definite relationship with TDS and heart disease mortality. Higher levels of TDS results in less heart disease. Proper levels of hardness and TDS are two of the beneficial properties In
Source: HEALTHY WATER Martin Fox, Ph.D.
Many researchers believe a reduced salt intake can help lower blood pressure. There is evidence that low salt diets could help prevent high blood pressure in humans. However, many factors are involved in high blood pressure besides sodium. Diets high in potassium, rich in vegetables and less meat consumption have been shown to be effective in reducing or preventing high blood pres-sure. Also adequate calcium and magnesium intake are
Some studies have reported that higher levels of sodium in drink-ing water resulted in higher blood pressure. (55) (28) However, most studies have not supported this finding. No correlation was found between high blood pressure and high levels of sodium in the drinking water in Illinois, Michigan, Iowa and Australia. (4) (27) (22) (39)
However, the vital question is: Are there studies showing a cor-relation between high levels of sodium in the drinking water and higher mortality rates? When we ask this question and look at the studies, we come up lacking.
Robinson in England and in Wales and Schroeder, Sauer1 Greathouse and Osborne in the United States studied this. None of these investigations showed that higher levels of sodium in
What about water softeners? Many people use them for their laundry and drinking water. Are they healthy? Some water
Earlier, we discussed that people drinking harder water have less heart disease
Recent statements from the American Heart Association and the World Health Organization recommend limiting the sodium in drinking water to 20 mg/L.. In the United States, 40% of all the drinking water exceeds 20 mg/L of sodium. If we follow this advice, many people will have to purchase either low sodium
But, if we adopt these procedures, we will create a soft
Frequently water supplies high in sodium are also high in hardness (Ca and Mg) and
Kirstin Hendrickson is a writer, teacher, coach, athlete and author of the textbook “Chemistry In The World.” She’s been teaching and writing about health, wellness and nutrition for more than 10 years. She has a Bachelor of Science in zoology, a Bachelor of Science in psychology, a Master of Science in chemistry and a doctoral degree in bioorganic chemistry.
“Hard” and “soft” are adjectives used to describe the mineral content of water. Soft water either has a low mineral content or contains only minerals that dissolve well in water, while hard water contains minerals that don’t dissolve as well in water. In general, soft and hard water are equally healthy.
Many parts of the United States have hard water. If your municipal water supply depends upon a source of surface water, such as a river, or upon ground water — which includes well and aquifer water sources — you have hard water. Water is defined as hard if it contains minerals, including calcium and magnesium, that can form insoluble salts in pipes and on fixtures. While the minerals and their salts don’t affect the health of the water, they are a nuisance because of mineral buildup in household plumbing.
Some communities have naturally soft water. If you live in an area that depends upon rainwater catchment, you likely have soft water in your municipal system. Rainwater contains few dissolved minerals. While it has to be treated before it’s considered safe for a community to drink, treatment doesn’t involve altering the mineral content in any way. Unlike hard water, soft water doesn’t result in formation of salts on fixtures and in pipes. Naturally soft water is just as healthy as hard water.
If you have hard water and find it a nuisance, you have the option to chemically soften your water. Many chemical softening systems replace calcium and magnesium minerals in the water with sodium, another mineral. It’s logistically difficult to remove minerals from hard water — it’s much easier to replace them with other minerals. Since sodium is a mineral that doesn’t form pipe or fixture buildup, it’s a natural choice to replace calcium and magnesium in hard water.
If you’re on a sodium-restricted diet, you may wonder whether chemically softened water is less healthy than hard water or naturally soft water. While you need sodium to stay healthy, the average American not only gets plenty of sodium from food, they generally get too much. This can cause health problems. Still, the amount of sodium in chemically softened water is minute compared to the amount of sodium in food, explains Dr. Sheldon Sheps in an article at the Mayo Clinic website. You can generally drink chemically softened water without concern.
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Even though the general consensus seems to be that drinking soft water is relatively “safe,” it is not healthy for a number of reasons.
First, I want to explain that the type of water softener I am referring to here is a resin device that uses salt (primarily sodium chloride or potassium chloride) to remove the “hard” minerals such as magnesium and calcium from the source water through a process called ion exchange.
There are a number of other so-called water softeners on the market which use various technology such as Electromagnetic Technology (ET) or Radio Frequency (RF) or Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC) or Matrix Enabled Particularization (MEP) – just to name a few.
However, these technologies do not reduce the hardness of water to a level that is considered to be soft. According to the Water Quality Association (WQA), a water softener system must reduce the water to “less than one grain per gallon (gpg) of hardness ions” to be softened water.
Thus, anything other than salt-based softeners (at least that I have seen at the time of writing this) should be called “water conditioners” rather than water softeners.
The following benefits and drawbacks are for salt-based water softeners.
Since more than 80 percent of us in the United States have hard water, according to a U.S. Geological Survey, many homeowners and landlords look into installing water softeners to reduce scale.
Household Pipes and Appliances. The scale that can build up from hard water can clog and eventually damage household pipes and valves, the water heater, sink faucets, and a number of water-based household appliances. This then leads to the expense and bother of repairs or purchase of new pipes and appliances.
Water softeners can prevent much of the scale buildup and extend the life of water pipes and appliances.
Cleaning and Personal Care. The other key advantage of a salt-based water softener is that it gets rid of the soap scum residue that is left on the skin and hair when bathing in hard water.
It will also improve the quality of the water for house cleaning and reduce the amount of soap scum and hardness that collects on the tub and shower.
People will simply not drink enough water to stay hydrated if they don’t like the taste of the water – and softened water tastes bad! The harder the water is, the more undesirable the softened water tastes.
Too Much Sodium
Second, since salt is added to the hard water in exchange for the minerals, the sodium content of softened drinking water is way above normal. According to a Colorado State University (CSU) study, approximately 75 mg of sodium is added to each quart of water per 10 gpg (grains per gallon) hardness.
Even though proponents of softened water suggest that the level of sodium in soft water is “safe” to drink for most people, it is not healthy! And it is certainly not recommended for anyone on a salt-restricted diet for health reasons.
The intake of natural salts that are rich in trace minerals (such as Celtic sea salt and Himalayan crystal salt) are important for proper hydration and mineral balance in the body, but nobody needs any more refined salt in their diet—from food or water.
Third, softened water is more likely than hard water to dissolve toxic metals in household pipes. Just a few of the potentially harmful metals that could end up in your softened drinking water are lead and cadmium.
And last but not least, with a salt-based water softener, the minerals in water are removed through the process of ion exchange – that is, the mineral ions in the water are exchanged for sodium or potassium ions.
Drinking water that is devoid of minerals can create a mineral imbalance in the body. Specific health risks include heart disease, osteoporosis, and gastrointestinal issues.
Demineralizing the water also makes it very acidic, which is not conducive to a healthy pH balance in the body.
WHO Study: Health risks from drinking demineralized water
Further reading. . .
Salt-Based Water Softeners – Advantages and Disadvantages
Return from Drinking Soft Water to Best Drinking Water
Aquasana Whole House Water Filter and Softener System
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Answers from Sheldon G. Shepps, M.D.
Regular tap water contains very little sodium. The amount of sodium a water softener adds to tap water depends on the “hardness” of the water.
Hard water contains large amounts of calcium and magnesium. Some water-softening systems replace calcium and magnesium ions with sodium ions. The higher the concentration of calcium and magnesium, the more sodium needed to soften the water. Even so, the added sodium shouldn’t be an issue for most healthy adults.
Levels of sodium in drinking water are very low in most water systems. In an Environmental Protection Agency survey, the majority of water systems tested had less than 50 milligrams (mg) of sodium per liter. Based on this data, a fourth of a liter (about an 8-ounce glass) of water would contain less than 12.5 mg of sodium, which falls within the Food and Drug Administration’s definition of “very low sodium.”
However, if you’re on a very low-sodium diet and you’re concerned about the amount of sodium in softened water, you may want to consider a water-purification system that uses potassium chloride instead. Another option is to soften only the hot water and use un-softened cold water for drinking and cooking.
In any case, it’s important to keep in mind that the majority of sodium in an average person’s diet comes from table salt and processed foods. Thus, the best way to decrease sodium in your diet is by putting away the saltshaker and cutting back on processed foods.
April 08, 2016
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Since 1997, Maria Christensen has written about business, history, food, culture and travel for diverse publications, including the “Savannah Morning News” and “Art Voices Magazine.” She authored a guidebook to Seattle and works as the business team lead for a software company. Christensen studied communications at the University of Washington and history at Armstrong Atlantic State University.
Perrier mineral water bubbles up from a natural mineral spring in France. The water is carbonated by natural gases that form under the spring. The water not only helps keep you hydrated, which is essential to health, the minerals offer a surprising number of health benefits.
No calories are in plain Perrier mineral water. The flavored varieties of Perrier, including lemon, lime and grapefruit, are flavored with essential oils. The oils do not add calories or sugar to the water.
An 8 oz. serving of mineral water contains 2 mg sodium and 4 percent of your daily recommended intake of calcium. Perrier also contains magnesium and potassium — two minerals your body needs for optimum health. Potassium is crucial to heart-health, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
A study published in “The Journal of Nutrition” found that consumption of carbonated mineral water containing sodium lowered the risk of heart disease in postmenopausal women. One liter of the water per day lowered “bad” LDL cholesterol levels in the blood and increased “good” HDL levels.
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I’ve tried a bunch of different hair products. I have thick wavy hair, so it’s hard to find something that can hold without being too gunky or stiff.
The feel of the soft water pomade is a bit gel-like, but it goes in clean and leaves no residue. My favorite part is that it washes out easily and does not dry my hair or scalp. As for the look, there is a light shine to it. I wish it came in larger sizes because mine only lasts 3-4 weeks of daily use. If you’re a daily user I recommend ordering more than one at a time.
Wrapping up, I like that the product comes in a glass container because it looks good in the bathroom. The scent is light, masculine, and pleasant.
Some people may find this helpful, but here are a few products that I have used recently that I would compare this to:
Axe Clean Cut Pomade
Layrite Original Pomade
Suavecito Pomade Original Hold
Imperial Barber Classic Pomade
The soft water pomade has a less aggressive hold than any of those but it uprooted each as my go-to pomade.
Hope this is helpful.
Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County prepared this
information. It also is available on their website at http://www.nashville.gov/water/soft_h2o.htm
Soft water is neither healthy nor desirable for drinking! If you were a
steam iron or a washing machine it would be great, but we are neither! There
are good reasons you should not be drinking soft water!
Water is a universal solvent. Most materials, especially metals, are
partially soluble in water. If that water is heated or softened it becomes
much more aggressive at leaching metals from water lines. Lead in soldered
joints and copper in pipe are particularly vulnerable and these are two of the
heavy metals which shouldn’t be present in significant amounts in your
magnesium are two minerals which make water “hard.” Both of these minerals are
classed as “contaminants,” but that’s a poor choice in terminology, for
calcium is essential in our diet! A softener merely exchanges one group of
non-toxic elements for another group of non-toxic elements. Water hardness is
measured either in grains per gallon (GPG) or as calcium hardness in
milligrams per liter (mg/l) or parts per million (ppm). GPG is based on
calcium hardness. To convert from calcium hardness ppm, just divide by a
factor of 17.2 and this gives you hardness in GPG. A soft or slightly hard
water has up to 3.5 GPG; moderately hard water runs from 3.5 to 10.5 GPG; and
very hard water is greater than 10.5 GPG. If your water is over 7 GPG, you
might want to consider a softener just for the laundry.
Metro water is on the low side of moderately hard at 4.1 GPG (that is 70
mg/l of calcium hardness. This is an excellent value and highly desirable!
Cities which have soft water are having difficulty meeting the new lead
standards in tap water. Metro has had none of these difficulties in meeting
the new standards!
A soft water is
aggressive at leaching metals (like lead) from your lines and faucets. Most
faucets are solid brass (with a relatively high lead content) and are chrome
plated. This means that if you have soft water, there is a great chance that
your initial drawing of cold water will have a higher lead content than
normal. Hot or warm water from the tap should never be used for cooking,
shortcuts, drinking water, beverages, or infant formula as it could be higher
in heavy metals like lead!
making the water more corrosive and aggressive at leaching metals from your
lines and fixtures, the zeolite beads from water softening systems may
back-siphon into your toilet tanks, and the soft water may attack vital
plumbing parts. While supposedly solving one set of problems, the softener
could possibly introduce other problems which you may or may not be aware of!
A water softener, besides leaching lead and other metals from your plumbing,
can increase your sodium intake. In a water softening device hard water flows
through synthetic resin beads. Sodium ions (salt) are loosely attached to each bead
and the water exchanges hardness ions (calcium and magnesium) for the soft
sodium ions. These devices can also be costly to run since they can waste up
to 120 gallons for every 1,000 delivered.
A water softener is not designed (nor is it effective) to remove lead and
other metals, chlorine, taste/odor compounds, nor chlorine by-products. Its
purpose is only to make a hard water soft. Water treated to remove chlorine
may encourage the formation of black rings in toilet bowls!
is great for laundry, bathing, steam irons, and auto batteries, but definitely
not for anything else. If you are contemplating installing a softener, there
are serious questions you should ask: who will test the effectiveness of the
softener, how often will these tests be run, and how will my drinking water
quality be affected?
Metro Water Services does not test any home water treatment device,
including softeners, and does not recommend the use of particular devices!