The latter claim is in line with the recent warning from the Department of Groundwater Resources under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. The department cautioned the public that drinking too much mineral water is likely to lead to a mineral imbalance in the body.
According to anti-ageing medicine specialist Assistant Professor Dr Pansak Sugkraroek, what comes with the high price of bottled mineral water is definitely its health benefits. Yet drinking mineral water every day might not be necessary.
“Medically speaking, a person should drink around two litres of water a day. But it does not necessarily have to be mineral water. Ordinary drinking water is fine,” explained Dr Pansak, who is also a hormone and sexual health specialist. Even without minerals from drinking water, Dr Pansak added, a healthy person usually receives an adequate daily mineral intake from other sources, especially food.
Although there is nothing wrong with drinking mineral water, consumers need to understand the choices on the market. A healthy choice is spring water, a natural mineral water that originates from underground water deposits, the doctor said. Not only does natural mineral water suggest nutrient richness but also cleanliness.
“When it rains, rainwater goes underneath the surface,” said the specialist, explaining the origin of spring water. “The rainwater then passes through the layers of slate and limestone and this way the water accumulates many mineral elements and so becomes rich in nutrients. And when the water goes through the layers of the Earth, it is filtered and naturally cleansed.”
Spring water from different locations contains different types and various levels of minerals, each with its own health benefits. Bicarbonate-rich mineral water, for example, is good for those suffering from too much acid in the stomach. Sulfates in mineral water can help the body’s digestive system, alleviating constipation and enhancing the function of the intestines.
But too much of something is definitely not good. Drinking too much mineral water, especially in one go, means the body suddenly receives an almost overwhelming mineral intake, said Dr Pansak, which results in mineral overdose and, subsequently, adverse health impacts.
“Taking in too much calcium, for example, can cause muscle spasms while too much magnesium is responsible for muscle weakness,” the doctor warned.
Imbibing too much water can also cause dilutional hyponatremia or water intoxication, be it mineral water or normal water. Drinking too much water in one sitting not only deconcentrates gastric acids essential for digestion, it also leads to an electrolyte imbalance and affects the nervous system.
Also, some unhealthy elements are sometimes hard to avoid with underground water.
“Arsenic, mercury, lead and cadmium can be found in mineral water but in a very small amounts _ so small that they are not harmful to health. Arsenic, for instance, is not toxic if one litre of mineral water contains no more than 0.005mg of it. The same applies to mercury, lead and cadmium. One litre of mineral water must not contain over 0.001mg, 0.01mg and 0.003mg of mercury, lead and cadmium, respectively.”
And serving temperature has nothing to do with the benefits of mineral water. To be more precise, one can drink mineral water either cold, hot or at room temperature.
But if the bottle is to be frozen or stored at a very low temperature, Dr Pansak recommends mineral water in glass bottles.
“Plastic is made from hydrocarbon which can release toxic substances in extreme temperatures,’’ explained the specialist. “So if you put the plastic bottle in the freezer, it releases chemicals that, in the long run, can lead to cancer.’’
And if you feel like drinking a bottle of mineral water but are dazzled by the myriad of choices in the supermarket, Dr Pansak offers some simple advice: Choose any brand that you find affordable, but just watch the amount you drink.
“You can drink mineral water after each meal. That is okay as long as you can afford it. But do not drink too much at one go,’’ he repeated.