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Can Drinking Hard Water Cause Health Problems?

Hard Water and Health Conditions

Water is an essential element of life. We need clean drinking water to stay alive, and use water in every facet of daily life, from food preparation to sanitation, to hygiene. The purity and safety of our drinking water supply is crucial to maintaining good health. 17% of the world’s population uses water from unprotected sources, 32% use water obtained from protected sources and 51% use water provided by municipalities that are delivered to the home.

About 1 in 8 people worldwide does not have access to safe potable water. Many of these people consume water that is considered “hard water” which may contribute to high disease rate such as cardiovascular problems, diabetes, reproductive failure and so on.

Hard water is defined as water, which contains a high level of calcium and magnesium ions. Other dissolved solids such as aluminum, barium, strontium, iron, zinc, and manganese that may be present can also cause hardness in water. The most common sources of hardness are limestone, which releases calcium and dolomite, which introduces magnesium. Because these minerals are leached from the soil, groundwater is harder than surface water.Potential Health Effects of Hard Water

The World Health Organization states that hard water has no known adverse health effects. In fact, hard water may provide benefits regarding calcium and magnesium intake. Any adverse health effects are generally thought to be associated with other elements present in hard water.

There have been studies that suggest the effects of hard water can worsen certain health conditions. These Include:

• Cardiovascular disease – various studies have shown that drinking water with elevated calcium and magnesium can have benefits regarding lower mortality and lowering blood pressure associated with cardiovascular disease.

• Cancer – A recent Taiwanese study found that the presence of calcium and magnesium in drinking water lowered morbidity/mortality rates with certain types of cancer, including gastric, colon, rectal and pancreatic cancer mortality. Another study found a positive effect from high magnesium levels in lowering the risks for esophageal and ovarian cancer. 

• Cerebrovascular Mortality – Some reports have found a significant protective effect of magnesium intake in lowering stroke risk. Magnesium is proven to lower blood pressure, which is believed to also decrease the mortality risk and incidence of stroke. Magnesium deficiency can cause vasodilation increasing blood pressure by restricting blood flow. We receive most of our magnesium through food sources, but still may be deficient. Drinking hard water can increase dietary magnesium and provide health benefits.

• Alzheimer's Disease – While a direct correlation between consumption of aluminum and Alzheimer’s has not been proven, studies have shown a higher incidence of the disease in water districts with a high level of dissolved aluminum in the drinking water.

• Diabetes – Hard water is often indicative of higher levels of magnesium. ATP-related enzymes and channels regulating insulin action are dependent on magnesium. Low magnesium levels have been found in non-diabetic subjects with metabolic disorders as well as being a common feature in type-2 diabetics. Recent evidence suggests that subclinical magnesium levels may precipitate a diabetic state.

As more studies come to light, there appears to be a positive correlation between mineral rich water and preventative action in many common maladies of modern life. The fact is increased levels of calcium and magnesium present in drinking water may be beneficial to good health. The benefits of minerals present in drinking water should be considered as part of any health regimen and in areas where these minerals are not present or have been removed supplementation may be a smart health choice.

Speak to a Skillings & Sons water treatment expert if you have hard water and would like to know more about water softeners. Contact us today.