Clean drinking water is a basic human need. It’s also a luxury for many. According to research from the Environmental Working Group, tap water can contain 300+ chemicals and pollutants, including heavy metals, Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs) such as pesticides, herbicides and other endocrine (hormone) disrupting chemicals.
The problem with many water filters is they take away all the good stuff too—the proverbial baby with the bathwater idiom. Take reverse osmosis (RO), considered to be the most advanced water filtration technology available on the market today. Although an RO system does remove fluoride, it also removes all minerals
and trace minerals (such as calcium, magnesium, iron and manganese) in the process.
Still for many people concerned about the safety and purity of their drinking water, reverse osmosis systems, one of the more popular home filters, seems like a dream come true. Home filters can remove the contaminants named above, and chlorine, trihalomethanes, arsenic, fluoride, hexavalent chromium, nitrates and perchlorate.
But home filters can beg the question: Can water be too pure?
Why drinking mineralized water matters
The body needs essential minerals for optimal function, with the main trifecta being iron, calcium and magnesium. These minerals also improve the taste of the water. In an ideal world, you could make up the mineral deficit through diet, but of course this doesn’t always happen. Demineralized water can lead to a higher risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies. And cooking with demineralized water can compound the risk because it actually further reduces the amounts of vitamins and minerals found in whole foods.
Water wants to bond to everything, and it will leach out the minerals where it can, robbing them from your food. When used for cooking, studies have found you can lose up to 60 percent of magnesium or 70 percent of manganese in your food.
Reverse osmosis is not a black and white issue. If you live in an area that’s dogged by water issues and concerns, it will help mitigate the safety of the water that you’re drinking. If pesticide or herbicides are a concern, filtering your water through a reverse osmosis system makes a lot of sense. A handy portable RO filter also makes good sense when you are camping or visiting a place with suspect local water. But in a world where water is scarcer and scarcer, it is worth mentioning that wasted water is a primary drawback of reverse osmosis systems. The problem? These systems typically take in five times more water than they produce for use, and the excess water is flushed down the drain.
It's helpful to be educated about the problem—and know what you can do to address it. Remineralizing your water may be important than you realize. If you don’t, you could be putting yourself at greater risk of a host of serious health consequences, including heart disease, higher risk of motor neuronal disease, pregnancy disorders (so-called preeclampsia), sudden death in infants, certain cancers and neurodegenerative diseases, and a higher risk of fracture in children.
How to remineralize water after filtering
1. Reverse osmosis system that includes remineralizer
There are RO systems that include a remineralizing function, which makes the process seamless. Consider this option if are considering a purchase, but don’t yet have a filter.
2. Add an additional remineralizing water filter
If you already have a reverse osmosis system, you can purchase a separate remineralization water filter. Typically these filers are not super spendy, ranging from $17 to $100.
3. Supplement with electrolyte blends
Electrolyte blends are powdered compositions of minerals such as copper, selenium, iron, manganese, calcium, and magnesium that are easily available at most supermarkets. You simply mix the electrolytes back into the water after it comes out of the RO filter.
Try: Trace Minerals Research Electrolyte Stamina Power Pak Orange Blast
, $16, vitacost.com
4. A drop will do you
Mineral drops provide the important minerals you need to help your body maintain a wide range of body functions and processes, particularly if you are drinking demineralized water.
Try: Vitacost Electrolyte Mineral Drops
, $14, vitacost.com
5. Add mineral salt
The simplest option may be to add a little mineral salt in your drinking water. Natural salt, such as Himalayan salt, rather than common table salt, contains all the necessary trace minerals that are removed during the reverse osmosis process. This is one of the most cost-effective means of remineralizing water.
Try: Shiloh Farms Himalayan Pink Salt Fine Sift
, $5, vitacost.com
6. Get an alkaline water filter pitcher
Use an alkalizing water filter pitcher to store your water, which automatically remineralizes your water. They’re a bit more expensive than using mineral rich salts but they’ll also last longer.
Try: New Wave Enviro Alkaline Pitcher Filter
, $50, vitacost.com
7. Include green veggies or powder in your daily diet
If you are committed to getting adequate minerals, you can also try adding a mineral-rich green powder or green blend to your filtered water for a morning pick-me-up. You don’t have to add the powder to every glass of water you drink—one serving per day is plenty. You could also make a juice or smoothie to drink in the morning or evening from fruits and veggies that are naturally rich in healthy minerals.
Try: Navitas Organics Superfood + Greens Blend
, $13, vitacost.com