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Minimum Magnesium Standard for Drinking and Bottled Water Would Save 150,000 Lives Annually

by Bill Sardi

A small group of mineral water bottlers is pressuring the Food & Drug Administration to establish a minimum standard for magnesium levels in drinking water, a move that scientists confirm would save hundreds of thousands of lives annually and reduce health care costs by billions of dollars.

A recently issued National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report indicates nearly 80% of Americans are deficient in magnesium, an essential mineral that is required for the health of living cells and normal function of muscle end heart tissues. Magnesium is provided in foods such as dark-green leafy vegetables, whole grains and nuts but nutrition researchers say the over-processing of foodstuffs and the use of phosphates in cola soft drinks have led to mineral deficiencies, particularly shortages of magnesium. The National Academy of Sciences has just released their recommendation to increase Recommended Daily Allowances (now called Reference Daily Intake) for magnesium.

Drinking water is the likely dietary component to provide magnesium since water is a regular dietary constituent and magnesium is up to 30% more bioavailable in water. The NAS report confirms an earlier 1977 NAS recommendation that the addition of magnesium to bottled and municipal drinking water may prevent up to 150,000 deaths from heart attacks per year.

The Healthy Water Association (HWA), a small group of bottled water producers based in Livermore, California, advocates US bottled waters at least provide levels of essential minerals similar to those provided by many European bottled waters. US bottled waters average only about 2.7 mg. per liter compared to more than 20 mg. per liter in some European brands.

The Healthy Water Association is pushing for a minimum standard of at least 25 milligrams of magnesium per liter of water. If new magnesium levels were to be adopted by the Food & Drug Administration, most sources of tap water and the 700 brands of bottled water in the US would not meet this new standard.

Magnesium levels in municipal drinking waters vary, being much higher in Arizona and New Mexico and low in Florida. According to the Pocket Guide to Bottled Waters, only 38 of 149 surveyed brands of bottled water, most of which are bottled in Europe, provide the 25 mg. per liter magnesium level.

FDA Accused of Foot Dragging

The Healthy Water Association claims the FDA received the report from the National Academy of Sciences linking magnesium deficiencies with sudden cardiac death over 22 years ago, but failed to take action then. The HWA claims inaction by health authorities has resulted in over 3 million avoidable deaths due to heart attack since 1977. By comparison, that's more loss of life than all battlefield deaths in all wars fought by the US.

Due to growth in the population, the HWA says a better estimate is that 215,000 deaths due to heart attack could be avoided annually (about 590 deaths per day) with the provision of adequate amounts of magnesium in drinking water. The HWA says about 40% of heart attacks, particularly sudden death cardiac events, are attributed to magnesium deficiency, a claim that is backed by more than 170 medical journal reports. More Americans die annually from poor magnesium consumption than from use of tobacco (about 50,000 smoking- related deaths per year).

The FDA appears to have misdirected their efforts concerning minerals in drinking water. Instead of acting upon the 1977 report by the NAS, or a current report by the NAS which underscores the need to correct magnesium deficiencies in the population at large, the FDA chose to set maximum levels for toxic heavy metals, such as cadmium and lead, in drinking water. While heavy metals are potentially toxic, they do not pose the immediate threat to life as does magnesium deficiency. In fact, magnesium is an antidote to lead poisoning.

Danger of Excessive Calcium

The HWA standard calls for bottled waters to provide a minimum of 25 mg. of magnesium per liter, suggests that the ratio of calcium to magnesium in bottled waters should not be greater than 2-to-1 and recognizes low sodium water may be desirable for hypertensive individuals.

However, some health authorities suggest too much calcium in relation to magnesium may also pose health problems. Finland has the highest ratio of calcium over magnesium, 7-to-1 in their diet, and has one of the highest rates of heart disease in the world. Medical reports indicate over-calciumization can lead to heart spasm, asthma, arteriosclerosis, headaches, joint problems, hypertension, mitral valve, cataracts, kidney stones and other health problems. Magnesium is a natural calcium-controller. For example, magnesium-rich bottled water has been used in clinical studies to successfully remedy kidney stones.

Some researchers suggest a more balanced 50-50 ratio between calcium and magnesium in the diet. According to a report by the Center for Health Care Statistics, North Americans already consume better than 750 mg. of calcium and only about 275 mg. of magnesium in their daily diet, about a 3-to-1 ratio of calcium over magnesium. Because sufficient amounts of magnesium are not provided in western diets comprised of calcium-rich dairy products and processed foods, achieving a healthy magnesium-to-calcium intake may be problematic. Some food supplement manufacturers have already responded to the problem by offering cal-mag in equal doses rather than the traditional 2-to-1 ratio of calcium over magnesium. Women taking calcium supplements to prevent osteoporosis are now being advised to balance the cal-mag intake.

Finding a magnesium-rich, low-calcium and sodium bottled water, which may be helpful to certain people with heart problems, kidney stones and other maladies, is even more difficult. Among 149 brands listed in the Pocket Guide to Bottled Waters. only one brand obtained from Adobe Springs in central California, bottled under the brand name Noah's Spring Water, is rich in magnesium and low in calcium and sodium. A liter of Adobe Springs water provides about 110 mg. of magnesium and only 5 mg. of sodium and 3 mg. of calcium. While adults with hypertension should avoid excessive consumption of sodium, athletes and other physically active non-hypertensive adults who may lose minerals due to excessive sweating, may benefit from some sodium in their bottled water.

Economic Consequences

The addition of magnesium to the 38.5 billion gallons of water delivered daily by 58,000 community water systems in the US would cost $121 billion, which is not economical. The addition of magnesium to all water-based bottled or canned beverages would add an estimated 2 cents in production cost to a case of twenty-four 12-ounce beverages, or cost about $350 million annually, which is less than $2 per consumer. The Healthy Water Association estimates the provision of magnesium in bottled waters would yield $86 billion in reduced health care costs. The mineral content of popular brands of bottled waters can be found at www.execpc.com/~magnesium####

Other contacts: Healthy Water Association, P.O. Box 1199, Livermore, California 94551 USA; Paul Mason 408-897-3023. Or visit their website at www.execpc.com/~magnesium (lists mineral content of 149 brands of bottled water.

Correspondence:

Bill Sardi

A Better Life

Consumer Health Information

457 West Allen #117

San Dimas, California 91773

909-394-5716

Fax 909-394-5719

Mineral Content of Bottled Waters

CA = calcium

MG = magnesium

NA = sodium

Mg/L = milligrams per liter

To end magnesium deficiency in the US, the National Academy of Sciences has proposed new daily allowances (Reference Daily Intake) for this mineral. A minimum standard of 50 mg. per liter in water-based beverages may be required to meet the magnesium needs of the population.

Healthy Water Association standards: minimum 25 mg. magnesium per liter.

The only bottled waters that meet this standards are Adobe Springs (Noah’s Spring Water), a naturally-mineralized spring water, and Viche Novelle, a fortified water.

 

Bottled Water Ratings

 

Name

Ca

Mg

Na

Ca:Mg

Source

mg/L

mg/L

mg/L

Ratio

Book

A Sante

4

1

160

3.3

1

Abbey Well

54

36

45

1.5

2

Abita

-

-

48

-+

1

Acqua di Nepi

72

26

32

2.8

2

Acqua Fabia

124

5

15

25.9

2

Adobe Springs

3

110

5

.0

*

Agua de Viladrau

16

2

9

7.1

2

Alhambra

10

5

5

1.9

1

Apollinaris

89

104

425

0.9

2

Aproz

454

67

8

6.8

2

Aqua Cool

45

1

3

45.0

1

Aqua-Pura

53

7

27

7.5

2

Aquamine

57

31

5

1.8

2

Arrowhead

20

5

3

4.0

1

Artesia

61

13

-

4.6

1

Badoit

200

100

160

32.0

2

Ballygowan

114

16

15

7.1

2

Belmont Springs

-

-

9

-

1

Black Mountain

25

1

8

34.2

1

Boario

124

41

6

3.0

2

Brecon Careg

48

17

6

2.9

2

Bru

23

23

10

1.0

2

Buxton

55

19

24

2.9

2

Caddo Valley

36

3

2

10.6

1

Calistoga

7

1

150

7.0

2

Canadian Glacier

1

0

1

6.3

1

Canadian Spring

11

3

2

3.8

1

Canada Geese

282

10

36

29.4

2

Carolina Mountain

6

-

5

-

1

Caxamba

-

-

3

-

1

Chiltern Hills

104

1

8

74.3

2

Clairval

20

7

13

2.9

1

Claudia

104

22

56

4.7

2

Cobb Mountain

6

2

5

2.8

1

Colorado Crystal

-

-

1

-

1

Contrex

467

84

7

5.6

2

Contrexeville

546

45

-

12.3

1

Cristalp

115

40

20

2.9

2

Crodo Lisiel

60

2

6

35.3

2

Crodo Valle d’oro

510

51

2

10.0

2

Crystal Drinking

1

1

4

0.9

1

Crystal Geyser Alpine Spring

-

6

13

0.0

2

Crystal Geyser Sparkling Min

8

3

160

2.9

2

Crystal Rock

2

2

3

0.9

1

Crystal Springs

-

-

-

-

1

Crystal Water-

-

4

-

1

Crystal White Spr.

2

0

12

10.0

1

Deep Rock

2

0

-

10.0

1

Deer Park

1

1

1

1.3

1

Diamond Pure Water

7

1

-

9.1

2

Diamond Water

74

3

2

24.7

1

Eden

26

18

32

1.4

2

Ephrata Diamond

27

7

10

3.7

1

Evian

78

24

5

3.3

2

Fachingen

113

62

500

1.8

2

Ferrarelle

408

23

50

17.7

2

Fiuggi

15

5

6

3.1

2

Font Vella

26

5

12

5.2

2

Fonter

35

7

11

4.8

2

Franken-Brunnen

198

42

52

4.8

2

Georgia Mountain

2

0

-

3.6

2

Gerolsteiner Sprudel

364

113

128

3.2

2

Glenpatrick spr.

112

15

12

7.5

2

Golden Eagle

22

37

1

0.6

2

Great Bear

1

1

3

0.8

1

Hassia Sprudel

176

36

232

4.9

2

Hayat

23

5

4

4.3

2

Hella

51

4

8

14.2

2

Henniez

111

19

9

5.8

2

Highland Spring

39

15

9

2.6

2

Ice Mountain

0

1

5

0.3

1

Jabal Akhdar

55

21

19

2.6

2

Kaiser Friedrich Quelle

5

4

1419

1.2

2

Kentucky Bubbling

80

-

19

-

1

Kentucky Spring

80

-

19

-

1

Kentwood

2

1

6

1.9

1

Krystynka

176

60

900

2.9

2

La Croix

37

22

4

1.7

1

La Vie

23

8

60

2.9

2

Lanjaron

50

12

-

4.2

2

Laoshan

111

70

1500

1.6

2

Levissima

18

1

1

16.7

22

Lithia Springs

120

7

680

16.4

1

Loka

4

4

139

0.9

1

Mendocino

310

130

240

2.4

2

Minere

54

27

110

2.0

2

Mount Olympus

8

2

3

3.3

1

Mountain Valley

68

8

3

8.5

2

Naleczowianka

119

24

21

4.9

2

Naya

38

20

6

1.9

2

Oasis Spring

39

11

10

3.5

1

Ozarka

18

1

5

18.4

1

Panna

15

5

13

2.8

2

Passugger

286

24

46

119

2

Pedras Salgadas

132

9

550

15.5

2

Penafiel

131

41

159

3.2

1

Perrier

145

4

14

41.4

2

Peterstaler

216

49

215

4.4

2

Poland spring

-

2

3

0.0

2

Polar

13

2

9

6.6

1

Pracastello

164

46

28

3.5

2

Pure Hawaiian

-

-

-

-

1

Quibell

-

-

5

-

1

Radenska

217

97

470

2.2

2

Ramlosa

-

-

222

-

2

Ramona

10

5

22

2.1

1

Rippoldsauer

248

37

150

6.7

2

Rock Spring

-

-

5

-

2

Romerquelle

146

65

13

2.2

2

Rosbacher

256

128

40

2.0

2

Saint Yorre

30

7

1108

4.3

2

Salus Vidago

78

10

660

7.6

2

San Benedetto

43

25

8

1.7

2

San Bernardo

12

1

1

20.0

2

San Narciso

53

9

1120

6.1

2

San pellegrino

204

57

47

3.6

2

Sangemini

322

19

21

16.9

2

Santa Ynez

19

87

-

2

*

Sao Lourenco Fonte Oriente

68

65

82

1.0

2

Saratoga

64

7

9

9.7

1

Sidi Harazem

70

40

120

1.8

2

Sierra

-

-

-

-

1

Snow Valley

-

-

-

-

1

Sohat

31

5

4

6.0

2

Spa Reine

4

1

3

2.7

2

Sparkletts

5

5

15

1.0

1

St. Gero

407

121

175

3.4

2

St. Michaelis

43

4

21

11.6

2

Strathmore

60

15

46

4.0

2

Talawanda

-

-

3

-

1

Talking Rain

2

2

0

1.0

1

Tanuf

52

20

21

2.6

2

Thorspring

6

1

8

12.4

2

Tipperary

37

23

25

1.6

2

Uberkinger

26

17

1180

1.5

2

Utopia

76

17

8

4.5

1

Valser St. Petersquelle

436

54

11

8.1

2

Valvert

68

2

2

33.8

2

Vera

34

13

2

2.6

2

Vichy Catalan

33

8

1133

4.2

2

Vichy Celestins

100

9

1200

11.1

2

Vichy Novelle

70

110

1

0.6

2

Vichy Original

100

110

220

0.9

2

Vichy Springs

157

48

1095

3.3

1

Villa del Sur

25

15

154

1.7

2

Vittel Bonne

91

20

7

4.6

2

Vittel Grande

202

36

3

5.6

2

Vittel Hepar

575

118

13

4.9

2

Volvic

10

6

9

1.6

2

Voslauer

57

37

5

1.5

2

Zephyrhills

52

7

4

7.0

1

Source Book 1: The Pocket Guide to Bottled Water, Arthur von Wiesenberger, 1991.

Source Book 2: The Good Water Guide, Maureen and Timothy Green, 1994. This book is available from Rosendale Press.

 


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