Friday, August 24, 2012

Mineral Water Question

I was recently contacted by a young lady whose mother has osteoporosis. I was told that she’s unable to have dairy and many calcium-fortified foods such as orange juice and soy products. In addition, she has a difficult time swallowing pills. On the other hand, she very much enjoys mineral water. Her question to me was, “Can I drink mineral water instead of taking a calcium supplement?”.

Before I delve into the mineral water issue, please note that there is almost always a way to incorporate adequate amounts of calcium in your daily routine via fortified and whole foods. For instance, non-dairy foods including collard greens, sardines and sesame seeds provide upwards of 25% of the Daily Value (DV) of this essential mineral. Likewise, milk substitutes made from almonds, coconuts and hemp seeds are frequently fortified with up to 45% of the DV per 8 oz serving. There are also quite a few chewable or liquid calcium supplements available in most health food stores and pharmacies. Simply put, there really isn’t a practical reason why one can’t get optimal amounts of calcium on a daily basis.
In terms of mineral water, the data is fairly straight forward. Mineral waters that are rich in calcium (providing a minimum of 342 mg of calcium/day) support bone mineral density in women who are deficient in the nutrient. Some evidence indicates that alkaline water, abundant in naturally occurring bicarbonate, may also slow the rate of bone breakdown. What’s more, several studies have demonstrated that calcium contained in mineral water is at least as bioavailable as dairy-derived calcium. A controversy that has yet been resolved is the role of trace minerals in select mineral waters. One example is silica, a trace element which has shown some benefit in relation to joint and skeletal integrity. A 12 week study appearing in the October 2010 issue of the Nutrition Journal determined that silica is easily absorbed from mineral rich water. However, the added silica intake “did not affect bone turnover markers in the short-term”.
The bottom line is that mineral rich water can be a good source of dietary calcium. But, reading labels to determine calcium concentration is vitally important. The disparity between calcium levels in various mineral waters can be significant. It also bares mentioning that the key to success with mineral water is consistency. For some, chewing or swallowing a daily calcium supplement may be easier to do than drinking a few glasses of mineral water each and every day. Finally, please remember that there is a whole host of other nutrients, including magnesium, Vitamins D and K, which benefit the skeletal system and generally aren’t found in mineral water. So, don’t place all of your eggs in one basket and assume that mineral water alone is enough to stave off osteopenia and osteoporosis

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