What is in Water?

One third of the liquid intake requirements of an adult are covered by solid food, the rest, the remaining two thirds by liquids. Good quality running drinking water and mineral water play an outstanding role in providing the body with the latter. 

The Hungarian mineral waters are tasty and are excellent thirst-quenchers. They contain all the important materials and trace elements vital for our bodies from a nutrition physiological point of view.  The consumed mineral water is easily processed and utilized.

No two mineral waters are the alike, in fact they are remarkably different due to their composition.  Mineral water containing minerals in an optimal amount has a positive effect on our ionic values. Following the Western trends the Mediterranean type waters with low salt content have become more popular. The traditional Hungarian mineral waters are of so-called German type i.e. they belong to waters with higher mineral material content.

Mineral Materials

Mineral and medical waters are mostly stored under the surface and get into springs in a natural way or they are rerouted to artificial wells by man. They derive mostly from precipitation and partly from the steam of smouldering rocks. From then they flow under the surface while various minerals are dissolved from the rocks of different materials and temperature, under alternating pressure. As a result, they are continuously becoming richer in “mineral salts”. The more significant components found in natural mineral and spring waters affect human body in different ways. Their recommended daily value (Recommended Dietary Allowance, RDA) and health threshold limits provide outstandingly important information.

In general one has to pay attention to the sodium content of mineral water, it must contain as little sodium as possible (under 20 mg/l) since our bodies get enough of the material simply by salting our food with common table salt. It is recommended to drink primarily non-gas mineral water during or after work out on the one hand, and carbonated mineral waters with more mineral content after a heavy “Hungarian” dish on the other hand. Calcium, magnesia and hydrogen-carbonate are outstandingly important elements in regards to nutrition physiology, thus their rate within the total saturated salt content should be as high as possible.

In order to understand the mechanism of our body, one must understand the macro- and microelements ensuring the smooth operation of the human body providing it with mineral materials as mineral components of water and food. Mineral materials of a rate higher than 0.25% of the body weight we call macro-elements, those of a lower rate are the microelements. These latter ones are as essential for the body as vitamins since they are catalysts of a number of biological processes. These elements positively influence the electrolyte balance.

  • Calcium

It is an important component of bones and teeth. Normally the majority of calcium comes from food intake (like dairy products, vegetables, seeds, etc.). Its shortage results in osteoporosis, its grave shortage in tetany (i.e. a convulsive state). Besides playing an important role in the building of bones, calcium also plays an important part in the traction of muscles, in blood clotting and in regulating blood pressure. Its RDA is 800-1000 mg daily with no health limits.

  • Chloride

It can be found in a combined form just like sodium or potassium chloride. Together with hydrogen it constitutes gastric acid in the stomach. Usually one gets enough of it with normal table salt intake. It has a very unique taste dissolved in water especially if its concentration exceeds 250 mg/l. Its RDA is 1800-2300 mg daily with no health limits.

  • Potassium

It is an important building block of cells. It is needed for the muscles and thus for the heart to work. It takes part in the control of liquid in the human body. Muscle weakness, muscle curling, dropping of blood pressure, circulation dysfunction, peristalsis and the dysfunction of the kidneys might occur if there is a shortage of it in the body. Its RDA is 4500 – 5100 mg daily.

  • Phosphorus

Along with calcium, phosphorus is an important building element of bones and teeth. It plays an outstanding role in the protein, fat and carbohydrate metabolism and in storing energy. Its RDA is 700 – 1250 mg daily, shortage of phosphorus hardly ever occurs.

  • Lithium

It is a trace element which – most probably – influences one’s psychic mood. Its lack can lead to the development of heart disease and circulatory illnesses.

  • Magnesium

It is an important element of protein and carbohydrate metabolism and is needed for the operation of muscles (heart muscle). It plays an important role in building and growth of bones. Its lack can lead to irritability, insomnia, concentration difficulties, muscle curling, dizziness and headache. Its RDA is 300-350 mg daily but in case of strenuous physical work, pregnancy and breast-feeding 300-420 mg daily. There is no health limit determined.

  • Sodium

It controls the liquid balance of the body together with chlorine and potassium. It plays an important role in muscle stimulation, in blood pressure control and in the activation of some enzymes. Its lack might lead to weakness, nausea, muscle curling and fainting. Its intake is mostly in the form of food and table salt. It makes water taste very unique especially if its concentration exceeds 200 mg/l. Its RDA is 1200 – 1500 mg daily, there is no health limit determined.

  • Manganese

It plays a role in protein, fat and carbohydrate metabolism as well as in the building of bones and of connective tissues. Its RDA is 1.6 – 2.6 mg daily.

  • Iron

Its main role is the transport of oxygen, of carbon-dioxide and of electrons. Its absorption is intensified by vitamin C and animal proteins on the one hand and is blocked by tannic acid and phytic acid found in grains. Its lack might cause anaemia, weakness, paleness, fatigue. Its RDA for women is 8-18 mg and 8-11 mg daily for men.

  • Fluorite

It is the building element of bone structure and teeth. Its lack makes the occurrence of teeth decays easier. Special care must be taken for the needed fluorite intake of pregnant women, breast feeding mothers and young children. Its overdose is dangerous. Its RDA for children of 4-18 years of age is 1 – 3 mg, for adults 3 – 4 mg daily, its health limit is 5 mg/l in form of fluoride. Natural mineral waters containing more than 1.5 mg/l of it must be labelled: “the fluoride concentration exceeds 1.5 mg/l and thus it is not fit for regular consumption of children younger than 7 years of age”.

  • Iodine

It is an important microelement of thyroid gland hormone production. It is essential for the development of the foetus in the womb. Its lack leads to the dysfunction of the thyroid gland (goitre). Its RDA is 0.09 – 0.29 mg daily.

  • Silicon

It plays a role in the building of bones and connective tissues, also in the formation of these latter and in the chondrification. Its lack slows growth and speeds up aging.

  • Zink

It is the ingredient of numerous enzymes and of insulin as well. It takes part in protein, fat and carbohydrate metabolism. It plays a role in the healing of wounds and helps the immune system function. Its lack might cause the dysfunction of these as well as result in the appreciable reduction of appetite and a decline in the sense of taste. Its RDA is 8 – 13 mg daily.

  • Hydrogen-carbonate

It plays a decisive role in maintaining the acid-base equilibrium of the body. It is excreted in the stomach and it is essential for digestion. It increases the quantity of gastric juice, helps the excretion of poison materials discharging with urine, precludes hyperacidity, alkalinizes the body and it has a positive effect in preventing tooth decay.

  • Sulphate

Sulphates of natural origin can be found in spring and mineral waters. This material gives a characteristic tartness to water, the intensiveness of which depends on the kind of cations in the water. This is true only above a certain limit, usually if its concentration exceeds 250 mg/l. The laxative effect of glauber salt (potassium sulphate) and saline (manganese sulphate) is due to it preventing the saturation of liquid from the intestine. Sulphates are one of the least dangerous anions thus there is no health limit determined.

  • Nitrite, nitrate

Nitrite and nitrate can be found in under surface waters and their presence in mineral and spring waters hints to some sort of above ground contamination. Nitrate can be found only in small amounts (< 10 mg/l), if at all in bottled waters thanks to the natural geological protective layers. More than two thirds of the daily intake of nitrate is in the form of vegetables (lettuce, carrot, sorrel) thus vegetarians have to pay special attention to it in their diet. Consumption of water with nitrite and nitrate concentration exceeding the limit values is especially dangerous for babies. This causes the so-called “blue disease” (methaemoglobinaemia). Their health limit value is 0.1 mg/l for nitrite and 50 mg/l for nitrate.

  • Trace elements

Besides the macro-elements already introduced, some 30-50 other trace elements can be found in natural mineral waters. Some of these are essential for the body, their lack can cause illness. Vanadium, chrome, manganese, iron, nickel, copper, zinc and bromine have to be mentioned. It is very important to know that trace elements have positive effects only in a small quantity; they can be rather dangerous if taken in large quantities.