Can You Drink Distilled Water?
Are you concerned about contaminants in your drinking water and searching for ways to purify your water? Distilling water is one option to remove impurities and involves boiling water and collecting the water vapor as it condenses. Boiling the water kills microbes and most contaminants are left behind in the boiled water, making the condensed water vapor contaminant-free. The process seems simple and safe enough doesn’t it? There are some things you should consider however before you start drinking distilled water.
Affects the taste of the water
Distilling water removes all impurities from the water, including natural minerals such as calcium and magnesium. While drinking demineralized water seems appealing because it is essentially pure, it can have some drawbacks. Natural minerals add flavor to the water so distilled water may actually taste flat due to the lack of minerals. Of course you can eventually get used to the flat taste but the lack of minerals can cause health problems as well.
Disrupts the body’s electrolyte balance
Water in your body is not pure but instead contains electrolytes, or salts, like sodium and potassium. When you drink distilled water that lacks salts, the water takes these electrolytes from your body. Drinking distilled water for long periods of time can decrease the electrolyte levels in your body causing you to feel tired and weak. You may also experience headaches and muscle cramps.
Removes nutrients when used for cooking
Just as distilled water pulls electrolytes from your body, it may also remove nutrients from food if used for cooking. Meat and vegetables contain numerous essential minerals but may lose these nutrients when cooked in distilled water. This is important to be aware of since most nutrients are ingested with food. In a study where soft water, which only contains sodium but no other dissolved minerals, was used for cooking, up to 60% of magnesium and calcium were lost from the cooked food. Over time, the decreased intake of minerals may lead to a deficiency which can cause many health problems.
Reduces mineral intake from water
We usually assume that all of our essential nutrients come from food but water also provides our bodies with minerals as well. Studies of communities in other countries have shown that women, especially pregnant women, who drink only demineralized water can experience loss of calcium from their bones. If you are already deficient in a mineral found in water, drinking distilled water can worsen this deficiency as well.
More Information and Alternatives
Very little information is available about the benefits or disadvantages of drinking distilled water. The World Health Organization (WHO) published a paper in 2005 titled “Nutrients in Drinking Water” that, in addition to other topics, discusses the health risks of drinking demineralized water. It contains very technical information but is a good review of different research studies.
Since there are potential drawbacks to drinking distilled water or any other type of demineralized water, you may want to consider other options when removing contaminants from your water. Water filters are available that remove harmful contaminants but do not remove healthy minerals.