Minerals and drinking water play an important role in the body. There are around 20 essential minerals for humans. Their origin is mostly the bedrock, and they can all be present to high or low concentrations in ground as well as surface water. Normal weight adults need 2.0–2.5 L/day of water for proper hydration, and it is known for centuries that water can be a source of minerals, where they are present as ions, in general readily absorbable. In the eighteenth and nineteenth century well off people in Europe went to health resorts to drink specific mineral waters containing sufficient levels of one or more essential minerals, water chosen for a specific health disorders. On the other hand, case histories from alpine climbing or polar expeditions which used melted snow as the only source of drinking water, with no minerals at all in it, appeared in scientific literature in mid twentieth century. The symptoms were derived from acute water and mineral imbalance and water intoxication, and include weakness, fatigue, convulsions, unconsciousness, and even death. Such water is comparable to RO (Reverse Osmosis) treated, desalinated water of today. Low levels of specific mineral elements have been proven to cause some diseases and symptoms. Thus, districts of Norway had high frequencies of softening of bone tissue among domestic animals (later identified as P deficient soils and water), and parts of China had increased levels of heart failure (low Se in soils and water). Dental remains of Native Americans from parts of Kentucky indicate Mn and Zn deficient soils and water, as cultivated maize had extremely low levels. During the twentieth century, hard water, with elevated levels of especially Ca, Mg and HCO3, presently with focus on Mg, is proven protective against diseases, especially cardiovascular diseases, but also diabetes, osteoporosis and even cancer.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sustainable Development, Environmental Science and Engineering (SEED)KTH, Royal Institute of EngineeringStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Department of Water HygieneNational Institute of Public HealthPragueCzech Republic
  3. 3.Linneaus UniversityKalmarSweden
  4. 4.Department of MedicalSurgical and Advanced Technologies “G. F. Ingrassia”, University of CataniaCataniaItaly
  5. 5.Institute of Public Health of SerbiaBelgradeSerbia

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