Calcium is one of the key micronutrients needed for bone development. It is especially important during childhood and adolescence because these are the stages of life when bone development and growth is most rapid.  Although many foods provide calcium, drinking water may serve as a source of calcium as well. However, different sources of drinking water may vary in calcium content. For example, water purification systems used to remove impurities in drinking water also remove minerals. Furthermore, the shift in consumption from tap water to filtered bottled water can also reduce total mineral intake. Thus, consumption of very low mineral water can drastically reduce calcium intake and subsequently have adverse effects on children’s bone development.

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A new study published in The Journal of Nutrition investigated the influence of very low mineral water on biomarkers of bone health in children. This retrospective cohort study, conducted by Weiqun Shu (College of Preventive Medicine Army Medical University) and colleagues, compared bone parameters among 2 groups of 10-13 y old children who had consumed drinking water for 4 y with either normal mineral content or very low mineral content. Differences daily total mineral intakes and biomarkers of bone development and formation between the 2 groups were analyzed.

Compared with the normal water group, children in the very low mineral water group had lower daily calcium intake, height increase, and bone mineral content.  Calcium intake from drinking water was positively associated with bone growth and health.  Not only did drinking very low mineral water result in slower linear growth and low bone mineral density, study results also highlighted the serious insufficiency of calcium intake in children’s diets. Although additional studies are needed, these results suggest that drinking water low in mineral content, including purified sources, may pose a health risk to children.

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Reference Huang Y, Ma X, Tan Y, Wang L, Want J, Lan L, Qiu Z, Luo J, Zeng H, Shu W.   Consumption of Very Low Mineral Water is Associated with Lower Bone Mineral Content in Children. The Journal of Nutrition. 2019; https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxz161

Cover Image credit: LuAnn Hunt on Unsplash