Dr. Robert Cook - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Robert Cook

Is Purified Water Bad For You?



Short answer

Purified water is not bad for you as it efficiently removes harmful contaminants. However, purification methods can strip water of essential minerals, potentially leading to a dietary deficiency if these minerals aren’t sourced elsewhere. Continuous consumption of demineralized or low pH purified water may require dietary compensation or remineralization. Meanwhile, plastic bottles commonly used for purified water can leach chemicals like BPA, posing additional health risks, suggesting that alternative containers may be preferable. Environmentally, purified water has a significant ecological footprint due to processes like plastic production and transport.



Recommended Alternative

Long answer

Purification Processes and Potential Loss of Minerals

When we talk about the safety and health implications of purified water, understanding the purification processes is crucial. Common methods include distillation, deionization, reverse osmosis, and carbon filtration. Each process has a distinct mechanism for removing contaminants, which may also result in the loss of beneficial minerals.

Distillation is one of the oldest purification methods. It heats water to create steam, leaving behind most impurities, and then condenses the steam back into liquid. While highly effective at removing pathogens and heavy metals, it also strips water of naturally occurring minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and fluoride—essential to human health for bone strength, cardiovascular function, and dental health.

Deionization uses ion exchange resins to replace harmful ions with ones that are less objectionable. Similar to distillation, it renders the water almost entirely mineral-free. This can be concerning because a consistent lack of essential minerals in drinking water may require dietary compensation to maintain adequate mineral intake.

Reverse Osmosis (RO) forces water through a semipermeable membrane, filtering out a significant proportion of impurities, including minerals. Some RO systems are so effective that they create 'demineralized' water, which, similar to distilled water, might contribute to mineral deficiencies if not addressed through diet or remineralization of water.

Carbon Filtration, a less rigorous process used often in home water filters, targets organic compounds and chlorine. It is less likely to reduce mineral content as drastically as the afore-mentioned methods. However, the extent of mineral retention can vary depending on the specific filter used.

Many health experts have raised concerns about the long-term use of highly purified water for drinking. The World Health Organization (WHO) has acknowledged the potential health consequences of demineralized water, citing evidence that water's contribution to total mineral intake is not negligible, particularly in communities where dietary mineral content might be insufficient.

The question then becomes whether the reduction of contaminants outweighs the loss of beneficial minerals. Studies like the one from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health recommend that purified water be remineralized before consumption to compensate for these losses. This can be accomplished through adding mineral drops, using a remineralization filter, or incorporating mineral-rich foods into the diet.

In summary, purified water can indeed have a lower mineral content compared to unprocessed spring or mineral water. This makes it imperative for consumers to be conscious of their overall mineral intake and seek alternatives to ensure their dietary needs are met.

While treating water to remove contaminants is essential for safety, striking a balance to retain beneficial minerals is also a key aspect of maintaining water's role in nutrition. The impact of long-term consumption of demineralized water is an area of ongoing research and discussion among nutrition and health experts.

Risk of Contaminant Leakage from Plastic Bottles

While purified water itself is designed to be free of contaminants, the packaging it comes in, often plastic bottles, can pose a potential health risk. The concern arises from the possible leaching of chemicals from the plastic into the water, especially under certain conditions. A primary substance of interest is Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical commonly found in polycarbonate plastics used to make containers that store food and beverages, including water bottles.

Research indicates that BPA can seep into food and beverages from containers made with BPA, especially when the plastic is heated or damaged. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated that BPA is safe at the very low levels that occur in some foods. However, there's ongoing research concerning the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and young children.

  • Increased Temperature: Studies have shown that the rate of chemical leaching increases as the temperature rises. Thus, storing plastic water bottles in hot environments, like a car during summertime, can elevate the risk of contaminants such as BPA making their way into the water.
  • Physical Damage to Containers: Cracks or scratches in plastic bottles can provide pathways for chemicals to migrate into the water. Regular wear and tear over time can exacerbate this problem.
  • Reusing Single-use Bottles: While reusing plastic bottles might seem environmentally friendly, repeated use can lead to degradation of the plastic, increasing the chance of leaching chemicals.
  • Older Bottles: Over time, plastic may break down, especially if subjected to harsh cleaning agents or high temperatures, further increasing the risk of chemical leaching.

Apart from BPA, other chemicals such as phthalates, which are added to plastics to increase their flexibility, can also leach into water from plastic bottles. Phthalates are endocrine-disrupting chemicals linked to a range of health problems, including reproductive abnormalities and increased risk of asthma.

In light of these concerns, some consumers opt for BPA-free bottles, though research is ongoing to determine the safety of alternatives used in these products. For those seeking to minimize potential risks, avoiding the use of plastic containers for storage of purified water, especially in environments that could promote leaching, may be advisable. Glass or stainless steel containers provide viable alternatives that do not pose the same risks associated with plastic bottles.

When considering the health impact of purified water, it's essential to take into account not just the quality of the water itself, but also the potential for contaminants introduced by its packaging. Making informed choices about storage can help reduce the risk of consuming harmful substances that could negate the benefits of drinking purified water.

For those interested in the specifics of these studies on chemical leaching, it’s helpful to consult peer-reviewed research and authoritative health sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) for up-to-date information and guidance on the safety of plastic water containers.

Assessing the Environmental Impact of Purified Water

The environmental implications of purified water encompass a range of issues, from the energy consumption in its production to the use of plastic bottles. Let's delve into the key factors that contribute to the environmental footprint of purified water.

Energy Consumption in Water Purification: The process of purifying water can be energy-intensive, especially methods like distillation and reverse osmosis. These require significant amounts of electricity to remove impurities, which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions when sourced from fossil fuels. Evaluating the source of energy used for the purification process is vital in understanding its environmental impact.

Plastic Bottle Usage: Purified water is commonly sold in plastic bottles, which present significant environmental concerns. Plastic bottles are derived from non-renewable petroleum and their manufacturing process releases CO2 into the atmosphere. Moreover, they contribute to ocean and land pollution when not properly recycled. The production of one liter of bottled water can require up to three liters of water, exacerbating its ecological footprint.

Effects on Water Resources: The extraction of water for purification can affect local water tables and ecosystems. In areas where water is scarce, diverting it for the purpose of selling bottled purified water can stress local supplies and potentially harm biodiversity. Ensuring sustainable water sourcing is crucial for minimizing this impact.

Transportation Footprint: After purification, water is often transported long distances to reach consumers. The fossil fuels used in moving these heavy loads contribute to air pollution and global warming. The transportation distance and method (truck, ship, plane) can significantly alter the product's overall carbon footprint.

Recycling and Waste Management: How consumers dispose of purified water bottles is integral to the material's lifecycle. Improper disposal leads to an increase in landfill waste, as not all plastic is recycled even when disposed of correctly. Factors like recycling efficiency in different regions and the presence of bottle return schemes play into the overall environmental assessment.

Economic and Policy Considerations: Government policies and economic incentives can heavily influence the environmental impact of purified water. Initiatives to encourage recycling, reduce plastic use, and promote greener manufacturing processes are key to mitigating negative effects. An example is the implementation of bottle deposit programs, which have shown to significantly increase recycling rates.

While purified water provides benefits like access to contaminant-free hydration, the environmental costs must be weighed and minimized. Studies suggest that shifting toward more sustainable practices such as using renewable energy for purification, increasing the use of recyclable materials, and promoting tap water where possible, could help alleviate some of these concerns. An example of proactive change is supporting local brands that source and purify water sustainably, which helps reduce transportation emissions (Mason et al., 2018).

Continued research and innovation in water purification technology may also reduce the environmental impact. Recent advancements, for instance, have led to more energy-efficient reverse osmosis systems (Jones, 2020). Moreover, increased consumer awareness and behavior change towards the environmental implications of their choices is also a crucial component for driving a more sustainable water industry.

Acidic pH Levels in Purified Water and Health Implications

The pH scale, which ranges from 0 to 14, measures how acidic or alkaline a substance is, with 7 being neutral. Purified water, particularly that which has undergone reverse osmosis or distillation, often has a lower pH, which can make it slightly acidic. This tendency towards a lower pH value arises because the purification processes remove minerals along with contaminants, some of which are responsible for neutralizing acidity.

Drinking water with a slightly acidic pH over the long term raises concerns among some health professionals, who warn about potential health implications:

  • Mineral Deficiency: Since purified water can lack essential minerals, long-term consumption might lead to a deficiency in minerals like calcium and magnesium, which are normally found in water and contribute to daily nutritional intake.
  • Effects on Digestion: There is some debate about whether consuming lower pH water could affect the stomach's ability to neutralize acids, although this claim warrants further research for a conclusive statement.
  • Impact on Blood pH: Contrary to popular belief, drinking acidic water does not directly impact blood pH, which the body tightly regulates; however, it can indirectly affect body systems that contribute to maintaining this balance.
  • Effects on Teeth: Acidity in water and other beverages can contribute to dental erosion over time, as acidic compounds can weaken the enamel, making teeth more susceptible to decay.

It's important to note that the human body has robust systems in place to regulate pH levels. However, a study published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health suggests that water with a more alkaline pH may have beneficial effects on certain health outcomes, which further initiates discussions about the optimal pH for drinking water.

While the potential health implications of acidic purified water should not be overestimated, they do warrant consideration, especially for individuals with specific health concerns or mineral deficiencies. Health authorities like the World Health Organization have expressed some reservations about the long-term use of demineralized water and recommend remineralizing purified water to offset potential negative effects.

Additionally, consulting with healthcare providers is advisable for those with pre-existing health conditions, as they can offer personalized advice on the most suitable type of water to consume. The shift between slightly acidic to neutral pH water should also be based on individual health needs and lifestyle choices, acknowledging that one size does not fit all in nutritional health.

The Balance Between Purity and Essential Minerals

The idea of drinking 'pure' water can be very appealing to those who prioritize their health and well-being. However, the very purity of water that removes contaminants also strips away beneficial minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium, which are essential for bodily functions. In the pursuit of consuming the purest water possible, one may inadvertently deprive their body of these essential nutrients.

Minerals play a significant role in maintaining a healthy body. They are involved in bone health, cardiovascular function, nervous system activities, and more. When water is purified through methods such as distillation or reverse osmosis, these naturally occurring minerals are significantly reduced or eliminated.

  • Calcium: Important for bone health, muscle function, and nerve signaling.
  • Magnesium: Crucial for energy production, DNA synthesis, and muscle contraction.
  • Potassium: Necessary for normal cell function, blood pressure regulation, and cardiovascular health.

The World Health Organization has highlighted potential health consequences associated with drinking demineralized water. Their reports suggest that the absence of these essential minerals could potentially lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, among other health issues.

Consider this 10-year study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine (Frassetto et al., 1996), which found that water with higher calcium content was associated with a reduced risk of hypertension, a well-known cardiovascular risk factor.

Furthermore, experts argue that depending on solely purified water for hydration could contribute to mineral imbalances, especially if one's diet is already lacking in these elements. It's key to remember that our diet is the main source of these minerals, and water serves as an additional contributor.

It's important to note, however, that for some individuals, particularly those with compromised immune systems or specific medical conditions, purified water might be beneficial or even necessary to prevent exposure to harmful pathogens or chemicals.

In conclusion, while purified water can be beneficial in terms of reducing exposure to contaminants, it's imperative to consider the balance and ensure that essential minerals are sourced adequately through diet or mineral supplementation. Consulting with a healthcare provider can be helpful in determining the best choice for your hydration needs based on your overall health, dietary intake, and lifestyle.

Hydration and Health: Understanding the Importance of Water Quality

Water is essential for life, and staying hydrated is crucial for maintaining overall health. The human body consists of about 60% water, and it plays a vital role in numerous bodily functions, including digestion, absorption of nutrients, regulation of body temperature, and elimination of waste.

When considering water quality, the term 'purified water' implies that the water has undergone a filtration process that removes impurities and contaminants. These may include bacteria, fungi, parasites, metals, and chemical pollutants. Consuming water free from these contaminants is critical because they can pose significant health risks — from gastrointestinal illnesses to neurological disorders and reproductive issues.

The overarching importance of water quality on health can be examined through several lenses:

  • Chronic Disease Prevention: High-quality water devoid of heavy metals and chemicals helps reduce risks associated with chronic diseases. For instance, lead exposure from contaminated water can lead to hypertension and kidney damage, among other conditions.
  • Immune System Support: Clean water is indispensable for a well-functioning immune system. It helps to flush out toxins and provides a transport system for various immune cells throughout the body.
  • Physical Performance: Adequate hydration with purified water is important for maintaining endurance and strength during physical activities. Even mild dehydration can impair athletic performance and cognitive function.
  • Weight Maintenance: Water can aid in weight control by promoting satiety and enhancing metabolic rate. It is also a zero-calorie alternative to sweetened beverages, which contribute to obesity.
  • Mental Health: Dehydration can affect mood and cognitive abilities. Studies suggest that adequate intake of clean water can help maintain mental alertness and reduce the risk of mood disorders.

It is also worth noting that purified water, while devoid of contaminants, may also lack certain beneficial minerals originally present in tap water, such as calcium and magnesium. To address this, many health professionals suggest a balanced approach that includes consuming mineral-rich foods or supplements to complement water intake.

Reliable research underscores the importance of water quality on health. For instance, a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health found a correlation between water quality and improved health outcomes in communities. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides guidelines on drinking water quality, emphasizing the influence it has on global health and disease prevention.

In summary, while purified water is generally not bad for you and can serve as a healthy hydration choice, it is important to understand the broader context of water quality and the role it plays in maintaining a healthful lifestyle.

Frequently asked questions

Yes, glass or stainless steel containers are excellent alternatives to plastic bottles, as they do not possess the same risk of chemical leaching such as BPA or phthalates. These materials are also more environmentally sustainable and can often be reused more safely than plastic containers.

Yes, purified water may significantly reduce or eliminate essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium, which are important for bodily functions. If your diet does not provide enough of these nutrients, consistent consumption of purified water might lead to a mineral deficit. It is essential to ensure proper mineral intake through diet or supplements if you regularly consume purified water.

Purified water typically has a higher environmental impact than tap water due to factors like energy consumption during purification, plastic bottle usage, transportation, and effects on local water resources. Tap water, conversely, has a lower carbon footprint, especially when consumed in regions where the municipal water meets safety standards without the need for extensive purification.

While the body has mechanisms to regulate pH levels, consistent consumption of purified water with low pH may have implications such as contributing to dental erosion. If you have specific health concerns or mineral deficiencies, you might want to consider remineralizing purified water or consulting a healthcare provider for personalized advice on your water consumption.

Ask a question about Purified Water and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible long-term side effects

  • mineral deficiencies
  • possible effects on digestion
  • dental erosion
  • increased risk of chronic diseases
  • endocrine disruption
  • reproductive abnormalities
  • increased risk of asthma

Ingredients to be aware of


  • reduces pathogens and heavy metals
  • decreases gastrointestinal illnesses
  • limits exposure to neurological disorders and reproductive issues
  • supports immune system
  • improves physical performance and cognitive function
  • assists in weight maintenance and mental health

Healthier alternatives

  • remineralized water
  • mineral drops
  • mineral-rich foods
  • glass or stainless steel containers

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Essentia Alkaline Water

  • Ionized hydration
  • Alkaline pH 9.5+
  • Convenient 6-pack
  • 202.8 fl oz total
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 01-13-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 01-13-2024

Random Page

Check These Out!