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Macro-minerals at Optimum Concentrations – Protection Against Diseases

Chapter

Abstract

There is a high content of minerals in so-called hard groundwater/drinking water, in areas with especially limestone, some kinds of sandstone and shales. Studies have shown lower incidence rates of different diseases in such areas. Calcium, magnesium and hydrogen carbonate from drinking water decrease the risk of especially cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, probably also cancer and diabetes. Hydrogen carbonate (HCO3) counteracts metabolic acidosis, and decreases loss of Ca and Mg via the urine. Sulphate (SO4) together with Mg may be active against constipation, but at too high level this water may cause diarrhoea. Ca and F (see further Chap.  4) in drinking water explains a great deal of the variation in the numbers of decayed, filled and missing tooth surfaces. However, there are some optimal ranges of the minerals to be only beneficial for health as high concentrations may be related to other health risks. Scientific studies also show that microelements like Se, Mo, Li and Cr from drinking water are important. Water softeners with NaCl, where Ca and Mg are more or less eliminated and exchanged for Na, can provide sodium (Na) levels of over 300 mg/L and cause especially elevated blood pressure. Water should not be softened to levels <8 °dH (<1.4 mmol/L). In the era of desalination, which produces drinking water with exceptionally low levels of mineral elements, even if the water is re-mineralized or pH-adjusted to avoid corrosion, such water may be harmful to sensitive individuals; e.g. those with low mineral intake from food. This will be expensive for society, mostly due to higher costs for healthcare, which recently has been estimated in a Danish study, but also, e.g., due to corrosion of pipes and installations. Suggested ranges for Ca, Mg, HCO3 and SO4 are: Ca 30–80 mg/L, Mg 10–50 mg/L, HCO3 100–300 mg/L and SO4 25–100 mg/L, with Ca:Mg: 2–3:1. So far WHO (World Health Organisation) has not established minimum accepted concentrations for these elements.

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© 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

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