In an effort to support heart health, the World Health Organization (WHO) is promoting the idea of adding calcium and magnesium to water supplies everywhere.
The WHO report, co-authored by 31 international experts and published in 2009, was looking at the consequences of water processing and it’s effects of removing minerals from natural water sources.
Unfortunately, they seem to be leaning towards what you could call the “Wonder Bread” solution – take out all the nutrients and than add back in a few and call it “fortified.” Anyone thinking Wonder Bread is healthy hasn’t been paying attention.
Although using supplements to increase health is a great idea, there are huge problems with this idea of doing it on a mass scale. Here’s why:
- It is impossible to control doses of anything added to water. Even if concentrations of minerals can be controlled, nobody can control how much water someone drinks. That means someone drinking the equivalent of 64 ounces of water would get eight times more calcium and magnesium than someone drinking only one 8-ounce glass a day.
- Minerals don’t function well without a wide variety of other nutrients and co-factors. For example calcium requires healthy digestive enzymes, vitamin D and other minerals such as manganese, boron and silica to be absorbed and utilized in the body. Are they planning on adding all of that to our water?
- Any additives to water will interact chemically with other minerals and additives. For example, virtually all municipal water systems add chlorine to water. In addition, there may be low levels of other minerals, contaminants and even drug residues in water. How will all of these combine and interact? Nobody knows.
- Each person has unique needs for amounts and forms of nutrients. This may be the most important consideration. Depending on someone’s metabolic requirements, more acidic or more alkaline forms of nutrients will work better. In addition, one person might need substantially more of one nutrient than another. It is impossible to control all of these variables by simply dumping minerals into the water supply.
This whole idea, although no doubt well-intentioned, has no possibility of being successful in it’s goal of improving health. It reminds me of the problems with adding fluoride to water. Of course it’s not exactly the same since fluoride is a toxic industrial waste product. Even so, the issues of dosage, form and individual requirements still apply. None of these can be effectively managed when adding anything to our water supply.
A better solution is to leave the issue of mineral supplementation out of the hands of those managing our water supply and in the hands of each individual. That way the form, dosage and frequency of taking minerals rests where it ought to – with the person it affects most.
In the meanwhile, it’s an outstanding idea to filter your drinking water. I recommend 5-stage, reverse osmosis as the best choice for this. Not only will you have the purest, cleanest water possible, you’ll also take back control of what minerals you choose to put in your body.