What Can Minerals and Fluids Supplements Do For You?

Both vitamins and minerals are essential in the diet in small quantities and so they are often grouped together as micronutrients.

Minerals, also called mineral elements, are those elements other than carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen, that are found in the body.

These minerals are derived from the breakdown of the rocks of the Earth’s crust which are then dissolved in water. So in a particular area, the minerals present in the local water depend on the underlying geology.

Plants take up the water through their roots and, if those plants are used as food for people or animals, then the minerals enter their bodies.

Animals are able to concentrate minerals in their tissues, so human foods of animal origin often contain a higher concentration than food obtained from plants. 

Minerals are also taken in through drinks. Minerals are needed in only small quantities in the diet, though some of them accumulate to a significant degree; for example, there is around 1 kg of calcium in the average human body. For most minerals, it is possible to identify their roles in the body, although some have, as yet, no known function.

Calcium (Ca)

About 40% of the total mineral mass of bones is calcium, making it the most abundant mineral in the body. In bone, it is combined with phosphorus, as well as oxygen and hydrogen, is a mineral compound called hydroxyapatite.

Calcium is also present in the fluids in the body, and there it occurs in the form of dissolved ions. An ion is an atom that carries a very small electrical charge, which can be either positive (+) or negative (−), depending on the ion. You may recall from our study of Vitamin A that the charges are due to the loss or gain of electrons.

Calcium ions, along with others, play an important role in the transmission of the electrical signals along the nerves of the body and in the brain, and in muscle contraction. Ions are also important in keeping the chemical composition constant inside cells and in the tissues around them. 

This process is one aspect of homeostasis, which is the maintenance of a stable internal environment in the body, by correcting any changes which occur to disturb that stable state. 

Calcium ions also play a role in blood clotting. In the West, calcium is mainly obtained through milk and dairy products in the diet. Soya milk is usually enriched with calcium for vegetarians who do not consume dairy products. 

Calcium is present at a lower level in cereals and is added to most flour. It also occurs in green leafy vegetables and in those fish, like sardines, whose bones are eaten.

Various compounds in food can bind to calcium and prevent it from being released from the food so that it can be absorbed from the digestive system into the blood. For example, oxalates, which are present in spinach and rhubarb, may lock up the calcium in a compound called calcium oxalate. 

A meal containing these foods, therefore, provides the body with less calcium than would be expected. In general, it appears that only about 30% of the calcium in food is actually absorbed into the blood; the rest is lost in the faeces.

With the natural ageing process, the amount of calcium present in the bones declines, especially in women for the first two to three years after menopause. When this process has continued to the extent that the bones become fragile and easily broken, the condition is called osteoporosis

Inactivity and changes in some hormone levels, and certain drugs such as steroids, can increase the risk of osteoporosis. In 2000, there were 90 000 cases in the UK of fractures associated with osteoporosis, so it is a significant cause of illness (morbidity) and mortality in the population. 

The best method of prevention appears to be to achieve the maximum amount of bone mass (known as the peak bone mass, PBM) by the age of 20–25. Although the bone composition is largely genetically controlled, various factors under the control of the individual can play an important role in teenagers and young adults, such as: Taking exercise. Increased muscle development leads to increased bone mass.

Ensuring an adequate calcium intake, maybe as high as 1.3 g per day, i.e. significantly above the RNI value. Maintaining a normal BMI. Underweight female teenagers are particularly at risk since a low BMI leads to lower bone mass. 

It also leads to amenorrhoea (ceasing of the normal menstrual cycle), when steroid hormones, such as oestrogen, are at lower levels than normal, and this also affects normal bone growth.

Ensuring adequate vitamin D and K intake, as already mentioned. Vitamin C is important for collagen synthesis, and collagen forms part of the structural framework of bones, so adequate vitamin C intake is important too.

Alcohol intake and cigarette smoking are linked with relatively lower bone mass. In fact, many of these same factors apply to the maintenance of bone mass throughout life.

Phosphorus (P)

Like calcium, phosphorus is important in the structure of bones and teeth. It is vital in the body as part of the molecules ATP and DNA and is also a component of phospholipids, lipoproteins and many other proteins too.

Phosphorus can occur, combined with oxygen, in phosphate ions and in this form it plays an important role in switching on and off metabolic pathways in cells. Phosphorus is widely available in the diet, from both plant and animal sources, such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy products, cereals and nuts. It is also added to many prepared foods such as bread and cakes, processed meats and soft drinks. 

Since the body absorbs phosphorus more efficiently than calcium, intake is usually sufficient for the body’s needs, but deficiency could lead to rickets and osteomalacia, as with calcium deficiency.

Magnesium (Mg)

Magnesium is also present in bone in the body and in the soft tissues, although in much lower quantities than calcium. It is important in the activity of more than 300 enzyme systems, in particular, those using ATP.

It is involved in the synthesis of proteins and in many other reactions in the body. In plants, magnesium is part of the chlorophyll molecule, so it is present in green vegetables and is found widely elsewhere in the diet, so intake is normally adequate. 

In some areas, there are low levels of magnesium in the drinking water, due to the lack of magnesium compounds in the underlying rocks. In such areas, surveys show that coronary heart disease is more common, though no clear causative link between magnesium and coronary heart disease has yet been found.

Sulfur (S)

Most proteins contain about 1% sulfur, which occurs in the side-chains (R groups) of two of the protein-forming amino acids, methionine and cysteine.

Cysteine is particularly important in proteins such as collagen (found in bone, tendons, cartilage and skin) and keratin (found in hair and nails, as well as skin).

After the injury, there is a particular need for sulfur to repair and build new structural proteins. However, a diet containing sufficient protein almost certainly provides sufficient sulfur for the body. Sulfur is also found in the vitamins biotin and thiamin and in some enzymes that play important roles in metabolism.

Sodium (Na), chlorine (Cl) and potassium (K)

The element sodium is a soft silvery metal and the element chlorine is a greenish gas that is poisonous to humans and many other animals. Yet when these two elements are combined together in a compound called sodium chloride, the properties are quite different. Sodium chloride in its solid form is composed of white crystals and we call it salt. 

When salt dissolves in water, the constituent sodium ions, Na+, and chloride ions, Cl−, become separated. Both of these ions are common in the body, sometimes to the extent that body fluids such as sweat taste quite salty.

It is important to normal body functioning that the concentrations of sodium and chloride ions, together with potassium ions (K+), in the blood and in the fluid around cells, are regulated within quite tight limits, however much or little is present in the diet. 

The ions are also essential for the transmission of impulses along nerves and for muscle contraction. In the UK, most people take in more sodium per day than is needed, mostly due to salt which is added to food either during the cooking process – particularly in manufactured foods, including bread – or at the table, to improve the taste of the food. 

There is no way of storing the ions and so the excess must be removed from the body by the kidneys in urine. It is particularly important that babies do not take in too much salt, since their kidneys are not fully developed and they are unable to remove excess from their bodies. 

If, when they start on solid food, they are given food with the normal adult quantity of salt, they can suffer kidney, liver and brain damage. As people get older, a small increase in salt intake has a greater effect on blood pressure than it does in younger people.

The UK Government’s guideline advice is that the intake of salt in adults should be no more than 5 g per day for women and 7 g for men. The average adult intake is currently around 9 g per day.

When levels of sodium are too high, the body retains too much water and the volume of body fluids increases, increasing blood pressure (hypertension). High blood pressure is linked with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and strokes. 

Reducing the salt intake does, over a number of weeks, lead to a blood pressure reduction. Since there appear to be no adverse consequences of a reduction in salt intake, such a reduction in the diet of all adults is to be recommended. 

However, this dietary change is not easy to achieve, since people become accustomed to the taste of a particular level of salt in food and taste buds need time to adapt to less. Additionally, food labels often give the sodium content of food, rather than the salt content.

Like sodium ions and chloride ions, potassium ions are also widely distributed in foods and intakes are thought to be similar to those of sodium. However, potassium appears to have quite the opposite effect on blood pressure to sodium; the higher the potassium intake, the lower the blood pressure. 

Studies indicate that higher potassium levels allow the body to deal more effectively with excess sodium. Since fruits such as bananas, and vegetables are good sources of potassium, more fruit and vegetables in the diet can have a beneficial effect on blood pressure.

Fluorine (F)

Fluoride ions (F−) are rare in foods, though some are found in tea and in seafood. However, fluoride does occur naturally in some water supplies, derived from the rocks through which the water flows. Its only role in the body appears to be to help to protect teeth from decay.

The stages of tooth decay are as follows: bacteria live in saliva on teeth (form plaque) produce lactic acid → dissolves calcium salts in tooth enamel produce protein-digesting enzymes → destroy enamel protein eventually enamel surface of the tooth is breached underlying softer dentine is attacked cavities form in the teeth.

Acid dissolves the hydroxyapatite, a process called demineralisation. Once the acid has been neutralised by the saliva, the minerals can be restored to the tooth surface in a process called remineralisation.

However, too many sugary foods mean that there is insufficient time for this remineralisation to occur completely and the tooth begins to decay. It is thought that fluoride helps to prevent this decay in several different ways:

  1. As the enamel is developing in children’s teeth, if fluoride is present, it replaces the OH (hydroxy-) part of hydroxyapatite, forming fluorapatite, which is harder and more resistant to decay.
  2. When the remineralisation process is occurring in the presence of fluoride, again the newly formed enamel is stronger.
  3. Fluoride becomes concentrated inside the plaque bacteria, which reduces their ability to produce acid, so less demineralisation of the teeth occurs.
  4. There is some evidence that children who grow up in areas where fluoride is present in the water have shallower grooves in the biting surfaces of their teeth, thus reducing the places where bacteria can lodge to form plaque.

It seems likely that the remineralisation effect is the most important and so the control of sugars in the diet and the regular use of fluoride toothpaste, to supplement fluoride in the water, are the best preventative measures.

For the protection of teeth, the optimal level of fluoride in drinking water is 1 gram of fluoride per million grams of water (abbreviated to 1 part per million or 1 p.p.m.). In areas where fluoride levels are naturally low, this mineral can be added to the water supply, as it is in some areas of the UK. 

However, there is some controversy about this measure due to concerns that fluoride could be in some way harmful to health, although there is no scientific evidence to support that claim. 

The only adverse effect of fluoride appears to be that when fluoride intake is too high, children’s teeth can become mottled with opaque white patches (dental fluorosis). The teeth remain functionally normal and resistant to decay and only their appearance is affected.

Iodine (I)

Iodide ions (I−) derived, like all mineral elements, from the breakdown of rocks, is present in some soils, but much of it has been dissolved out by water over millions of years and washed down into the sea. 

It is concentrated by some marine organisms, and so can occur at quite high concentrations in edible seaweed, and in fish and other seafood. Thus people living near coasts often have sufficient iodine in their diet, whereas those living in mountainous areas, such as the Himalayas and Andes, where most of the iodine has been removed from the soil by millennia of high rain and snowfall, can suffer from iodine deficiency.

Iodine is an essential component of thyroid hormones, produced by the thyroid gland at the base of the neck. These hormones play a vital part in the regulation of metabolic processes, especially growth and energy expenditure. 

If there is insufficient iodine for the production of normal amounts of these hormones, the thyroid gland enlarges as the cells attempt to boost their hormone production. Ultimately, the swollen thyroid produces an enlargement of the throat called a goitre. 

Not only does the swelling impede breathing and swallowing, but the lack of sufficient thyroid hormones also leads to weight gain, lethargy, intolerance to cold, increased blood cholesterol, mental slowness and reduced heart function.

Iodine deficiency has its greatest impact during pregnancy since it has major effects on the developing brain and physical growth of the fetus. In the worst case, the child suffers from cretinism, in which there is mental retardation, stunted growth, apathy, and impairment of movement, speech and hearing. 

However, even minor iodine deficiency can lower a child’s IQ by between 10 and 15 points, which, if it occurs in a large percentage of the population, can severely hamper the economic development of a country. Iodine deficiency is regarded as the greatest cause of preventable brain damage, putting almost a thousand million children at risk worldwide. 

A UN initiative aims to eliminate the problem by adding iodine to salt, since salt is consumed by almost everyone in the world, regardless of culture or socioeconomic group. In the UK, cows’; milk is a major source of iodine due to the use of iodine-containing supplements in cattle food.

Nuclear accidents can release radioactive isotopes of iodine into the environment, which can then contaminate water and food supplies. The iodine settles onto the grass in pasture land, and is then eaten by cattle, and appears in their milk – a major way in which it is taken in by people.

Radioactive iodine can become concentrated in the thyroid gland and cause thyroid cancers. If a large amount of normal (non-radioactive) iodine is taken in, it can displace the radioactive iodine (which is then excreted) and reduce the chances of cancer developing. 

This non-toxic iodine can be supplied to those at risk in the form of potassium iodide tablets. After the explosion at the nuclear power plant at Chernobyl in 1986, such tablets were supplied to 10.5 million adults and 7 million children thought to be at risk.

Iron (Fe)

The ability of blood to carry oxygen is due to the presence of the red pigment, haemoglobin, present in red blood cells. Haemoglobin is a protein formed from four polypeptide chains called globins, in the centre of each of which is a small non-protein part called a haem group (haima is Greek for ‘blood’). Each of the haem groups has an iron atom within it.

The majority of iron in the body is in the form of haemoglobin. The total amount present depends on a number of factors, including gender and body weight, as well as general health.

Iron is also found in another molecule that also binds to oxygen, called myoglobin. A myoglobin molecule is very similar to a quarter of a haemoglobin molecule, i.e. one globin chain with its associated haem.

The red colour in the meat that we eat (the muscles of animals) is due to myoglobin. There are several types of fibres in muscles, including red fibres and white fibres, and whether the meat has a light or dark colour depends on the amount of each type present. 

Red muscle fibres predominate in those muscles that sustain long periods of activity. Fat may be stored around these muscles as an energy source, and the oxygen needed to combine with the fat to provide energy when the muscles are active is obtained from myoglobin. The myoglobin constantly replenishes its oxygen by picking it up from the haemoglobin in the blood.

So these muscle fibres are high in myoglobin, which gives them their red colour. White fibres are found in muscles that are only required to be active for a short time. They use glucose from the blood as an energy source, and so there is little fat around the muscles. Less oxygen is needed to combine with the glucose, and so less myoglobin is present and the muscles are lighter in colour.

The liver is another type of meat that is very rich in iron since the liver is where all mammals, including ourselves, store their iron, bound to a protein called ferritin. Cereals contain iron, though it is usually bound to a substance called phytate which is also found in nuts and some vegetables, and which also binds to calcium and zinc

Being bound in this way means that the iron from vegetables and cereals is less easily absorbed than the iron from animal products. However, phytate is removed by milling and then white bread flour is fortified with iron to ensure that bread is a useful source of the mineral. 

Various other substances in the diet can also bind iron and therefore prevent its absorption, while others, including vitamin C, can enhance the amount that is absorbed. The complex interaction with other foods makes it extremely difficult to predict just how much iron will be absorbed into the body from a particular meal. 

The average amount of iron in the diet is about the same as the RNI, which hides the fact that many individuals, especially women, are deficient in iron.

Red blood cells do not have a nucleus and so, without a set of chromosomes, they are unable to make new components or repair any damage. Since they spend a lot of their time being squeezed through tiny blood capillaries, often not much wider than themselves, they are easily damaged and this results in their limited lifespan of about 120 days. 

So, there is a huge daily turnover of red blood cells. In fact, every second, one and a half million (1 500 000) red blood cells are destroyed, and the same number of new ones are produced. If the iron was not recycled from the red cells that are destroyed, 240 mg of iron would be needed every day. 

Red cells are broken down mostly in the liver (and spleen), where the iron is stored attached to ferritin, as mentioned earlier, and new red cells are made in the bone marrow. So there is a requirement for iron to be transported in the blood between these sites, which it does attach to a protein called transferrin. 

Small amounts of the storage protein, ferritin, are present in the blood and a fall in ferritin level is the first sign of iron deficiency. If the deficiency persists, the red cells that are produced are smaller and contain less haemoglobin than normal and gradually the person develops the symptoms of anaemia, with tiredness and lack of appetite. It is thought that anaemia may affect one-tenth of the world population. A change in diet or taking iron supplements should correct the condition.

Selenium (Se)

Selenium is found in the body as an important group of enzymes (glutathione peroxidases) which have important antioxidant properties and work in conjunction with vitamins C and E to destroy free radicals in cells. 

Some studies have shown that a higher selenium level is linked to a lower risk of breast, prostate and colon cancer, which may in part be due to selenium’s antioxidant function. Other selenium-containing proteins help to regulate thyroid function and play a role in the immune system.

The selenium content of foods depends partly on the protein level since selenium is found attached to the amino acid cysteine in animal proteins and to methionine in plant proteins. 

However, the level of food also depends on the selenium content of the soil where the plants are grown or the animals are raised. Levels are low where soils are acidic and there is heavy rainfall. Soils in some parts of China and Russia have very low amounts of selenium and selenium deficiency is often reported in those regions because most food in those areas is grown and eaten locally.

Selenium is found in fish, meat and eggs and in bread, though the level depends on the source of the wheat. Much of the wheat from America and Canada contains sufficient selenium, but when bread-makers in the UK switched from Canadian to European wheat, the selenium levels in the wheat were found to be 10 to 50 times lower, resulting in a significant fall in the daily intake of selenium in the UK. At least one bread manufacturer subsequently added selenium to their products. 

An alternative solution is to encourage farmers to use fertilizer containing added selenium on their land. In the UK, Brazil nuts are the richest dietary source of selenium and if eaten in large quantities, could result in excess intake.

Selenium deficiency may contribute to the development of arthritis, coronary heart disease, thyroid malfunction, and a weakened immune system. Evidence suggests that selenium deficiency does not usually cause illness by itself, but makes the body more susceptible to illnesses caused by other nutritional, biochemical or infectious stresses. 

Keshan Disease, named after the area of China where it was originally found, is a specific disease associated with selenium deficiency, resulting in an enlarged heart and poor heart function in children. It was first described in the early 1930s, though now has largely been eliminated due to a more varied intake of food.

Zinc (Zn)

Zinc is involved in many metabolic processes in the body, due to its importance in the functioning of more than 100 enzymes. These control, amongst other things, metabolism of foods, production of energy, cell division and protein synthesis. The body contains 2 to 3 g of zinc in total.

Zinc is most commonly found in protein-rich foods, such as meat, and also in peanuts and pulses (peas and beans). Generally sufficient is available in Western diets, although there is some concern that amounts are declining due to increased processing of food and there may be

insufficient reserves in some individuals to cope with increasing demands such as during periods of increased growth in children, during pregnancy and during wound healing after injury. 

Vegetarians who consume a variety of legumes and nuts will probably take insufficient zinc, but other vegetarian diets may not contain enough, especially since zinc from plant sources is absorbed less readily than that from animal foods.

The clearest evidence of zinc deficiency was seen in the 1960s when Iranian military officials noted that an unusual number of young men eligible for army duty was short in stature and showed delayed sexual maturation, as well as a number of other symptoms. 

Earlier research had shown that similar symptoms developed in animals if they were deprived of zinc in the diet. When the zinc levels of the army recruits were tested, they were found to be particularly low. 

Their normal diet was based almost exclusively on cereals, which although they do contain zinc, also contain chemicals called phytates (see the section on iron) which prevent the zinc from being absorbed. Furthermore, many of the young men indulged in the strange habit of geophagia, or clay eating. 

Clay binds to zinc in the digestive system and slows down its absorption. After treatment with a well-balanced diet containing adequate amounts of zinc for a year, pubic hair appeared, sexual organs increased in size, and growth in height was resumed, confirming the vital role of zinc.

Signs of mild zinc deficiency are less dramatic and there is no specific deficiency disease associated with zinc. Instead, many general signs appear such as poor appetite, a decrease in the sense of taste and smell, weight loss, poor night vision, delayed healing of wounds and repeated infections. 

About 25% of people who have an impairment in taste and or smell are suffering from zinc deficiency. Half of the people with anorexia nervosa also appear to have a zinc deficiency and there is some evidence that zinc supplements improve the condition. 

Zinc supplements are sometimes used to treat skin ulcers or bedsores, but they do not increase rates of wound healing when zinc levels are normal. Zinc and castor oil creams are used to prevent nappy rash in babies. 

Apart from that, a recent study showed that higher blood zinc levels and zinc supplements lead to better sleep quality in both humans and animals. According to an 8-week study on insomnia in older adults, supplementation with zinc, magnesium, and melatonin – the hormone that regulates sleep cycles – led to faster, better sleep.

Due to its health benefits, magnesium and zinc can be commonly found in the ingredients of sleep supplements. For example, the popular sleep supplement Resurge includes both magnesium and zinc in its unique formula to help people relax and feel calm. You might want to read some Resurge reviews because the manufacturer claims that Resurge can help people lose weight as well.

There are also health risks if the intake of zinc is too high. Metal fume fever, also called brass-founders’ ague or zinc shakes, is an industrial disease caused by inhaling zinc oxide fumes, which cause damage to the nervous system.

Fluid balance

Fluid balance is essential to your health. Although a person can survive for several weeks without food, without fluids, someone can survive for only a few days. A loss of water equivalent to just 1% of body weight is enough to make someone feel thirsty and to have an effect on their ability to concentrate. 

Such a loss has been shown in some studies in schools to result in a 10% decrease in the mental performance of children. 

A 4% loss results in dizziness and reduced muscle power. By the time there is a 6% loss, the heart is racing and sweating ceases and a 7% loss results in collapse and subsequent death if the loss is not replaced.

Fluid loss

During an average day, a person in a temperate climate such as the UK loses about 2.5 litres of water.

Urine output is controlled by the kidneys and even in cases of quite severe dehydration, urine production continues, since it is needed to rid the body of the nitrogen-containing compound, urea, which is produced as a result of the breakdown of amino acids from proteins. 

In a dehydrated person, the output of urine can be as low as 0.5 litres per day and it will be a dark brown colour. More normal output is 1.5 litres and a light yellow colour indicates that the body is well hydrated. 

Sweating is part of the system that regulates body temperature. The heat from the body is used to evaporate sweat from the surface of the skin and so the evaporation has a cooling effect. A typical loss of water through sweating of about 0.5 litres per day can increase in hot weather and during exercise to up to 2 litres per hour. 

The losses from the lungs (0.4 litres daily) and in faeces (0.1 litres daily) are normally fairly constant.

However, diarrhoea increases the loss from the digestive tract hugely and can quickly result in dangerous levels of dehydration if the fluid is not replaced. 

Diarrhoeal diseases are common where people live in overcrowded conditions without a clean water supply, and there are an estimated 10 million cases and 5000 deaths each day throughout the world. 

Since both water and ions are lost, the best treatment for diarrhoea is oral rehydration, using sachets of commercially prepared rehydration mixture or a home-made solution containing eight teaspoons of sugar (to provide energy and to mask the taste of the salt) and one teaspoon of salt in a litre of water, together with some mashed banana or orange juice if available.

Fluid gain

In a normal diet, fluid is gained via food as well as in drinks. As well as plain water, most drinks, such as tea, coffee, juices and milk drinks, hydrate the body, but alcoholic drinks may not. 

Alcohol is a diuretic, a substance that increases the output of urine by the body. Calculations indicate that for each unit of alcohol taken in (1 unit=about 8 g alcohol), about 80 ml of extra water is lost from the body. If the unit of alcohol is taken in as a half pint of beer, then more fluid would have been taken in than was lost, so dehydration would not result. 

However, if the alcohol is taken in as wine or spirits, in a much smaller volume, then dehydration can result. Advice to alternate alcoholic and soft drinks, and to drink extra water at bedtime, is designed to offset the dehydration effect and go some way towards preventing a “hangover” the next day. 

Caffeine, found in coffee and tea, is also a diuretic but over 300 mg a day is needed to have a diuretic effect and surveys in the UK find daily intakes well below this value. Individual fluid requirements vary but intakes of about 1 litre per day in food and 1.5 litres in drinks (nonalcoholic) are typical.

Water is also produced in the body. When proteins are synthesised by linking together amino acids, a water molecule is produced for every peptide bond made. When fatty acids are joined to glycerol to make fat (triacylglycerol), water molecules are also generated.  And finally, linking monosaccharides together to make carbohydrates also generates water.

Overall, about a quarter of a litre (0.25 litre) of water per day is gained by the body from such metabolic processes.

Many people now drink mineral water, often carrying a bottle with them. Mineral water is thought to be ‘better’ in some way than drinking tap water. In fact, tap water contains adequate minerals too. Currently, in the UK, water companies must satisfy the requirements of the Water Supply (Water Quality) Regulations 1989, which give prescribed concentration values (upper limits) for 57 different parameters.

The regulations also specify a range for the pH of 5.5–5.9 for tap water. pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of the water, with 7 being neutral, values below 7 being acidic and those above 7 being alkaline.

The dry residue is the amount of material left when a sample of the water is boiled to dryness.

Tap Water and mineral water may, of course, come from exactly the same source. However, some tap water is obtained from sources that are at risk of contamination from microbes, and in the UK, tap water is therefore filtered and pretreated with chlorine and other chemicals to make it safe to drink. 

Bottled water that is labelled as ‘natural mineral water’ is extracted from the ground and is bottled at the source without any treatment. If the water is sparkling when it comes from the ground it is labelled as ‘naturally carbonated natural mineral water’. 

If the carbon dioxide is added to the bottling plant, it must be labelled ‘carbonated (or sparkling) natural mineral water’. Water labelled as ‘spring water’ must be obtained from an underground source, be bottled at the source and be microbiologically safe without any treatment. 

However, certain other treatments, such as the chemical removal of minerals whose levels are too high, are permitted. ‘Table water’, on the other hand, needs to comply only with regulations on water quality for tap water and can be bottled anywhere.

I have also reviewed a lot of other dietary supplements, if you are interested, you might check them out.

Key points about minerals

  • Certain minerals are required in the body.
  • Some minerals form essential structural components of tissues. For example, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium compounds are major components of bones and teeth. Fluoride is also important in protecting teeth from decay.
  • Sodium, potassium, calcium and chloride ions are important in maintaining the correct composition of cells and of the tissue fluids around them (homeostasis). These same ions are also involved in communication between cells, in particular the rapid transfer of signals along with nerve cells and in the brain. They also play a part in muscle contraction.
  • Some minerals are essential components of important molecules such as hormones and enzymes. For example, the hormones produced by the thyroid gland contain iodine and many enzymes need magnesium, selenium or zinc to function. Sulfur is an essential component of some amino acids and iron is incorporated into haemoglobin and related proteins.
  • The correct fluid balance is also essential for the normal functioning of the body.
  • Tapwater, and not just mineral water, contains minerals.

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