I can’t begin to tell you how much pleasure it gives me to write this article. I will never forget being severly chastized a few years ago by a senior executive of a company that sells thousands of RO systems per year for “not knowing what I’m talking about” and that my challenge to him and the industry about RO water being unhealthy was “preposterous”. At the time of the meeting I was not equipped to fend off his accusations because I hadn’t put in the research that I have now.
Despite being torn to shreds by the marketing executive at the meeting, I never believed the RO industry claim that it didn’t matter if their systems removed everything from the source water because the human body couldn’t absorb inorganic molecules anyway. After all, most of the supplements that are available on the market are inorganic, which means that either the RO industry was protecting its “ass-ets” or the entire supplement industry was a scam.
The RO industry has been disseminating inaccurate (that’s about as politically correct as I can get) information for years. Doctors and other health care professionals have unwittingly been endorsing the “RO water is the best drinking water” message for years which makes the myth worse because we trust these people with our health.
Proof that RO water is unhealthy
I could write about the dozens of interviews I have conducted with water industry experts and biochemists, or about the hundreds of scientific articles I have reviewed but nobody would take the time to read it. In order to keep things brief, I offer two sources of evidence that unequivically reveal the fact that the water produced by RO systems is bad for your health if you drink the water over the long term.
The American government’s online health website www.pubmed.gov is an arm of the National Institutes of Health. The site offers a collection of:
more than 22 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books
I spent several long days poring over numerous studies related to the ability of the human body to absorb inorganic elements such as Calcium and Magnesium. I managed to find 14 scientific studies on the site that provide irrefutable evidence that the human body can and does absorb inorganic matter such as Calcium and Magnesium.
The bottom line of what I learned from reviewing the studies is that your body will absorb anywhere fro 6% to 30% of its daily requirement of essential elements from tap water. In a world where our soil is virtually devoid of nutriets from too many crops and not enough recovery time, and where diets are anything but healthy, it is very important to your long term health that you ingest calcium and magnesium from drinking water.
The second website that drives a dagger into the RO industry myth that its pure water is healthy comes from the World Health Organization (W.H.O.). The WHO provides us with a Position Paper titled “The Health risks from drinking
demineralized water” which was written by F. Kozisek. You can tell by the title where the article is headed.
Here is a link to the article: http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/nutdemineralized.pdf
Here are some of the highlights from the article:
The final report, published as an internal working document (WHO 1980), concluded that “not only does completely demineralised water (distillate) have unsatisfactory organoleptic properities, but it also has a definite adverse influence on the animal and human organism.”
The potential for adverse health effects from long term consumption of demineralised water is of interest not only in countries lacking adequate fresh water but also in countries where some types of home water treatment systems
are widely used or where some types of bottled water are consumed
The WHO provided recommendations in 2004 as to what they believe should be included in drinking water and in what concentrations:
* For magnesium, a minimum of 10 mg/l (Novikov et al. 1983; Rubenowitz et al. 2000) and an optimum of about 20-30 mg/l (Durlach et al. 1989; Kozisek 1992);
* For calcium, a minimum of 20 mg/l (Novikov et al. 1983) and an optimum of about 50 (40-80) mg/l (Rakhmanin et al. 1990; Kozisek 1992);
* For total water hardness, the sum of calcium and magnesium should be 2 to 4 mmol/l (Plitman et al. 1989; Lutai 1992; Muzalevskaya et al. 1993; Golubev and Zimin 1994).
At these concentrations, minimum or no adverse health effects were observed. The maximum protective or beneficial health effects of drinking water appeared to occur at the estimated desirable or optimum concentrations. The recommended magnesium levels were based on cardiovascular system effects, while changes in calcium metabolism and ossification were used as a basis for the recommended calcium levels
Summary of the research:
Scientific testing and the best “unbiased” brains in the world have repeatedly demonstrated that long term consumption of demineralized (RO) water is bad for your health.
What should you do if you are drinking demineralized “RO” water?
You don’t need to disconnect your RO system and throw it away (unless it is operating ineffectively which often happens if the system is not properly maintained). RO systems do a great job of removing impurities/contaminants from the water and that is a good thing. The problem with RO systems is that they don’t discriminate between good stuff and bad stuff as they remove everything. What you need to do is remineralize the water once it has passed through the RO membrane. Adding back Magnesium and Caclium in the proper concentrations fixes the problem.
The RO industry is just waking up to the reality that long term consumption of demineralized water is bad for your health. The sellers of RO equipment are now racing around trying to find a solution to making their water healthy. From what I can see from the initial offerings, the industry has not done its homework because they are offering Corosex and Calcite solutions. While Corosex and Calcite will remineralize water, they were never designed to work with the aggressive acidic water produced by RO systems. As a result, Calcite and Corosex filters can dump more minerals into the water than your kidneys can digest and result in the formation of kidney stones. Calcite and Corosex filters are obviously not the right solution for remineralizing aggressive acidic water produced by RO machines.
What is the solution?
My focus for the past couple of years has been on natural remineralizing filters which can be used on their own as basic ionizing filters, or in conjunction with RO systems. Intuitively, one would think that the media of the various remineralization filters on the market would be very similar, and to some degree they are. However, I have found that even the smallest changes in the media, or the amounts of media used, and even the way that the media is layered inside the filter can make a big difference in the performance and life expectancy of the filter. Based upon my testing and what I see in the market, the best remineralization filter that I have found is the Vitev Remin filter which you can find at: www.vitev.com/alkaline-water-ionizers-p/remin.htm. I think the Vitev Remin filter is a little pricey for its category, but it is very effective and imo, is worth a few extra dollars per year.
Clean drinking water filtration has remained almost in the exclusive domain of RO systems for the past 45 years. Today, Nano filtration and Ultra filtration have been gaining market share as the filters are cost effective, are much smaller, and allow for much higher water flow rates.
The best filter for your needs will depend upon your source water. If you are drinking water supplied by a municipality, you don’t really need a RO system unless the municipality adds fluoride to the drinking water.
If your municipality does add fluoride to the water supply, there is a new American made water filter that removes 85% of fluoride at a flow rate of 2 liters per minute (this comment was added to the article in June 2016). If the flow rate is slowed down to 1 liter per minute, the new filter may remove as much (92% to 95%) fluoride as RO systems. The filter consists of two types of activated carbon and Zeolite minerals bound with polymers to form a carbon block.
I learned about this filter technology from the makers of H2FX (see http://h2fx.com/#oid=22092_2007 ), who will be incorporating the new “fluoride” filter in their Hydrogen Infusion (HIM) system going forward. That is good news for those that don’t want fluoride in their drinking water. I expect other companies will adopt the fluoride filters as the news gets out.