Mineral water, tap water & Co. – which water should I drink?

Our body and our organs depend on being supplied with sufficient water. How much water or liquid we should consume every day varies from person to person. However, since the body only signals to us that supplies are running low when there is a shortage of thirst, the rule of thumb is: 1.5 to 2 liters of liquid in the form of drinks per day. But: Water is not just water. You can find out the differences between tap water, mineral water, spring water and the like below.

Small 1×1 of water species

In addition to the well-known mineral water, there are a number of other types of water, all of which differ significantly from one another: in their origin, composition and  taste . So we are spoiled for choice between:

  • drinking water (tap water)
  • natural mineral water
  • medicinal water
  • spring water
  • Table washer

What all types of water have in common is that they have no calories. The special features of the different types of water and the definition for distinguishing them are presented below.

drinking water (tap water)

Tap water is not obtained from deep water like mineral water, but  from ground or surface water  . The quality of this water is not the same everywhere, rather it varies from place to place.

Unlike mineral water, it is not of natural purity. Depending on how clean it is, it must therefore be treated and cleaned by the waterworks. For example, it can be treated with chlorine or additionally   filtered through activated carbon .

In Germany, drinking water is checked frequently and  thoroughly.  So you can assume good quality. However, caution is advised when the water flows from outdated lead pipes.

Natural mineral water

Mineral water is a purely natural product that is obtained from the so-called  deep water  . This has formed over many decades from rainwater. It is naturally cleaned and filtered by percolating through layers of soil and rock (particularly carbonate and salt rocks).

In this way, the water also absorbs  carbonic acid and  minerals  . The more carbonic acid a water contains, the more minerals are dissolved from the surrounding rock layers.

Mineral water must come from an underground source and be of natural purity. It is bottled directly at the source and is the only food that has to be officially recognized.

Nothing may be added to natural mineral water. Only the removal of  iron  and the regulation of the carbonic acid content are permitted. In addition, the label must state:

  • treatment procedures
  • source name
  • filling place
  • Date and result of the officially recognized analysis

Medicinal water as medicine

Natural healing water has to meet even higher demands. It has to come from  special medicinal sources  and is subject to the strict guidelines of the Medicines Act – approval is therefore required.

As so-called ready-to-use medicinal products, healing waters must have medical effectiveness, i.e. they must be able to prevent, alleviate or even heal illnesses, for example. Possible areas of application are, for example, chronic gastrointestinal diseases, various kidney diseases and  osteoporosis .

Spring water: water from the depths

Spring water also comes from  underground water sources.  However, it does not have to have any demonstrable effects on health, does not contain a constant amount of minerals and is not officially recognized.

The same standards are applied to the composition of spring water as to tap water.

Table water – a mixture

Table water does not have to be of natural origin. It is an industrially manufactured,  artificial mixture  of tap water and other ingredients such as salt water or mineral water. Additives may be added to table water as part of general food law.

Since table water is not tied to a specific source, it can be produced and bottled anywhere (including in containers and tankers) and can also be offered “loose”, i.e. via dispensers. In contrast to mineral water, it does not have to be officially recognized.

Glossary: ​​information about mineral water

The following terms and information can often be found in the context of water:

  • De-ironed: The iron originally contained in the water has been filtered out of the source. If the water is not “de-ironed”, it will oxidize on contact with oxygen – the contents of the bottle would turn rusty brown about an hour after opening.
  • Low mineral salt content below 500 milligrams per liter (mg/l): this water is suitable for daily use.
  • Very low mineral salt content below 50 mg/l:   A low mineral salt content is recommended for kidney stones and high blood pressure .
  • High mineral salt content up to 1500 mg/l: This water is not suitable for daily use and should only be used for medical indications, such as metabolic disorders, diseases of the digestive tract or the  pancreas .
  • Bicarbonate content more than 600 mg/l: This water supports the enzymatic processes of digestion.
  • Sulfate content more than 200 mg/l: A laxative effect is to be expected.
  • Chloride content more than 200 mg/l: The chloride content promotes the function of the intestines, bile and liver.
  • Calcium content more than 150 mg/l: Such water provides  calcium  in case of milk intolerance, is suitable during  pregnancy  and for growing children.
  • Magnesium content more than 50 mg/l: This water is particularly suitable for  stress  and for people who are active in sports.
  • Fluorine content more than 1 mg/l: This water is particularly suitable for osteoporosis.
  • Divalent iron content (Fe2+) more than 1 mg/l: This iron-rich water is suitable for  anemia .
  • Sodium content more than 200 mg/l: Such a high  sodium content  has a beneficial effect on the intestinal activity, bile ducts and liver; However, it is not suitable for high blood pressure.
  • Sodium content 20 mg/l, nitrate content 10 mg/l: Such water is suitable for preparing baby food.
  • Sodium content less than 20 mg/l: This water is suitable for low-sodium diets, for example for high blood pressure.

quality of tap water

Lots of people like to drink tap water – because they like it, don’t want to lug around crates or avoid littering. You don’t have to do without carbonated water either, because with soda makers you can fizz up the water yourself. But what about the quality of drinking water: is it safe to drink tap water?

Before drinking water is fed into the public network, it goes through several purification steps. The regulations of the German Water Ordinance are so strict that the water from the tap is considered the most strictly controlled food in Germany.

It is true that groundwater can contain too much nitrate  , largely as a result of agricultural fertilization  . In this regard, however, a limit of 50 milligrams of nitrate per liter applies. If this is exceeded, the water may not even be fed in by the water supplier.

Occasionally, drinking water also contains small amounts  of uranium,  which can occur naturally in water (also in mineral water). Local water suppliers check the uranium content of the tap water and can provide information about it. They also ensure compliance with the limit values.

Contamination from water pipes

Even if the water has passed strict controls at the supplier, it can in rare cases become contaminated on its way through household pipes, for example when it runs through pipes made of  lead or  copper  :

  • Water with a pH below 7 can loosen particles from the copper pipes, which accumulate in the water. Therefore, the Drinking Water Ordinance stipulates that the pH value of the water should be adjusted to a value of 7.8 or higher by the water supplier if possible. Copper pipes may only be used if the quality of the drinking water allows it. 1
  • Lead pipes, which were installed in parts of Germany until 1973, can release lead into the water, especially if the water has been in the pipes for a long time. Lead lines should therefore be replaced. 2

If you are unsure about the quality of your tap water or would like to use it to prepare baby food, you can ask your water supplier or have your water tested by an independent institute.  You can even determine the pH value and degree of hardness yourself using test strips.

In principle, you should let water that has stood in the pipe for a long time (stagnant water) drain off and not use it as drinking water, also because of the possible germ contamination.

Limescale in tap water

Limescale in drinking water is unattractive to look at and can contaminate household appliances such as the kettle with white deposits. Hard, i.e. calcareous, water is harmful to health, but not. Because hard water contains more minerals, specifically the hardeners calcium and  magnesium , which are even desirable from a health point of view.

If your water is too hard, water filters with activated carbon can help to remove limescale and improve the taste of  tea , for example  – but remember to change the cartridges regularly because of the possible germ formation. Incidentally, according to Stiftung Warentest, table filters can also help to reduce the content of lead and copper – but not nitrate. 3

However, softening systems such as ion exchangers are controversial because, if they are not properly maintained, they can increase the germ load in the water and the phosphate content (which is undesirable in drinking water) can be increased by dosing systems. 4

Too little water causes dizziness

When the climate is hot and oppressive, symptoms such as  headaches  and  circulatory problems  with dizziness can be an indication of a lack of water in the body. Many people drink enough, but not the right amount. Alcohol, sugary lemonades, mixed milk drinks or  juices  are not good thirst quenchers – on the contrary.

Mineral water or good drinking water is much more suitable. If you don’t like it pure, you can also mix it with juice, whereby the mixing ratio should be one part juice and two parts mineral water. Since   a lot  of salt is lost when you sweat  , mineral water with at least 250 milligrams of sodium is recommended.

It is also important not to drink too much at once, but  to take small sips throughout the day. Because water that is taken in too quickly is quickly excreted by the kidneys or sweated out on hot days.

water for digestion

Drinking the right amount is not only important for the body’s water balance, but also for digestion. Because the body absorbs the water from the intestine.  Anyone who suddenly  suffers from constipation in warm  weather  should definitely increase their daily intake. Because a loose stool indicates that you are drinking far too little.

Choose the right water

Water regulates the mineral balance in our body. The minerals are important for our  metabolism , the conduction of impulses in the nerves and the activity of the muscles. Depending on individual needs, the right water can help to balance the consumption of minerals:

  • If you are under a lot  of stress  , you should drink mineral water with a high magnesium content, as this strengthens concentration and nerves.
  • Athletes and people who do  strenuous physical activities  should not only drink a lot, but also choose water with a lot of sodium, which the body loses through sweating. Sodium is important for the body’s water balance and acid-base balance.
  • Children  in the growth phase need a lot of calcium, so water with a high calcium content is particularly recommended for them. In mineral water, the calcium is already in dissolved form and can therefore be absorbed particularly well by the body.
  • Anyone who neither sweats a lot nor is under stress or has an increased need for minerals for other reasons can use a slightly mineralized and therefore tasteless mineral water.

In some situations it may also be advisable to  choose the water based on taste  . In restaurants, a slightly salty mineral water with a lot of carbonic acid is often served as an aperitif, which stimulates the taste. When eating, you should then choose mineral water with a medium or low content of minerals and carbonic acid, as this does not mask the aroma of the food.

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