Purpose: Although the annual consumption of bottled water in North America is 12.7 gallons per capita, little is known about the potential health effects of these waters. We reviewed the amounts of major minerals found in commercially available bottled waters, the recommended daily allowances for these minerals, and their beneficial and harmful effects.
Methods: We obtained the mineral content of various commercially available bottled waters in North America and Europe from The Pocket Guide to Bottled Water. We then conducted a Medline search to identify articles examining the beneficial and harmful effects of magnesium, sodium, and calcium.
Results: Great variation exists in the mineral content of commercially available bottled waters. Among the bottled waters that we reviewed, the magnesium content ranges from 0 to 126 mg per liter, the sodium content ranges from 0 to 1,200 mg per liter, and the calcium content ranges from 0 to 546 mg per liter. Epidemiologic and clinical studies suggest that magnesium may reduce the frequency of sudden death, that sodium contributes to the occurrence of hypertension, and that calcium may help prevent osteoporosis.
Conclusion: The ideal bottled water should be rich in magnesium and calcium and have a low sodium content. Because there is great variation in the mineral content of commercially available bottled waters, the actual mineral content of bottled water should be considered when selecting one for consumption.