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Reverse Osmosis (RO) Water – The Facts
What is RO Water?
RO water is sterile water which contains little or very little dissolved salts or minerals. It is known in the industry as Low TDS water where TDS stands for Total Dissolved Salts. RO water is produced by forcing water through an osmotic membrane (also sometimes called a semi permeable membrane because the holes in the membrane allow small water molecules to pass through), removing everything – the good and the bad.
RO Water and Your Health
Water is the best solvent in the world. “Low TDS” RO water leeches nutrients and essential elements like calcium, magnesium and iron from your body. These elements, which are needed by the body, are lost because the “starving” RO water absorbs it where it is excreted from the body via the normal processes. When you drink low TDS water your body is diluted and because the blood has a lower concentration of minerals in it, nutrients and toxins flow from the cells into the bloodstream. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and Mineral Content of Water The following points are important to note when considering the mineral content of water • The WHO, SABS, Rand Water Board, Canadian Water Standards and the USA Environmental Protection Agency all have water standards. These standards were not constructed without thought and careful research. Some of these standards such as the WHO water standard are updated every year and research has been ongoing since 1959. • All of these water standards and guidelines mention minimum as well as maximum limits for all common minerals and pollutants. The minimum limits are stated for a very good reason. Years of research into consumption of various different water sources has shown that consumption of low mineral content water is not healthy. For this reason the WHO and other water standards call for minimum mineral levels in water. When comparing RO water with the WHO standard it is evident that the RO water does not conform to the standard as the mineral content is always too low.
Organic vs Inorganic Minerals
An organic mineral is defined as a mineral attached to an organic substance such as Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen and/or Oxygen. These include iron and potassium. Inorganic minerals do not attach themselves to Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen or Oxygen. These include NaCl, Cu, Mn, Se, KCl. Proponents of RO and distilled water often state that the natural minerals found in water are inorganic and that the body cannot absorb them. This is not true. Inorganic minerals are used by your body every second of your life. The truth is that the body can assimilate both organic and inorganic minerals. It is in fact easier for the body to absorb inorganic minerals since organic minerals must first be metabolised in order to deal with the Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen and/or Oxygen. As an example, consider common salt (NaCl) which is inorganic. It is absorbed directly through the stomach. If large quantities of salt water are consumed one would eventually die. Why? Because this inorganic mineral has been absorbed.
More facts about RO and Distilled Water
RO / Distilled water is not good drinking water because all of the valuable minerals have been processed / filtered out of it. RO water purifiers and distillers remove most of the minerals from the water and therefore this water will tend to pull minerals and toxins from its surroundings in order to reach an equilibrium. It is a fact that water is the worlds best solvent and it easily dissolves hundreds of substances. Due to the low mineral content of RO and distilled water, it has the capacity for and is hungry for more minerals. Scientifically, low mineral content water is known as aggressive water. Because of this:• When storing RO or distilled water in plastic or metal containers, it may draw or dissolve toxins from the container. • RO and distilled water also tend to pull necessary and useful minerals out of the body’s cells to leave the body as part of the waste products. When this happens, cellular repair cannot take place and constipation can occur.
What Happens When You Drink a Lot of RO / Distilled Water
Your blood stream becomes diluted. Because the blood now has a lower concentration of minerals in it, nutrients (and toxins) flow from the surrounding cells into the bloodstream. This is good when you want to rid your body of toxins, but if this is continued for too long, you will drain your body of nutrients and minerals as well. Your cells may well become “starved” and the rate of uptake of both minerals and nutrients are decreased steadily. When you drink water that contains natural minerals, the concentration of minerals in the blood is optimally and naturally maintained at
the desired and required levels. Nutrients, vitamins and electrolytes can then move freely and are easily absorbed into the cells where your body can now use the food consumed. RO or distilled water can be very useful for occasional “flushing” or “cleaning” because it may dissolve toxins and ultimately discard them as part of the waste fluids from your body. 3 to 4 litres of RO or distilled water each day for 4 days, once every six months, has been found to be effective. Water used for this purpose must always be stored in high quality, clean glass containers to ensure that no toxins are absorbed during storage.
What are electrolytes and why are they so important?
Your body needs electrolytes to keep the nervous system working. Your nervous system carries tiny electrical signals from your brain to the rest of your body and organs, and back again. These signals tell your body what you want it to do, and tell your brain what your body is feeling. When nerve signals cannot be carried properly, your body will not do that well and may not be able to repair itself. Additionally, the diffusion of nutrients and minerals to every cell of the body relies on the correct concentration of electrolytes. The body constantly maintains the correct required concentration of minerals and upsetting this balance in any way, no matter how small, strains the body to deliver the correct level of nutrition to your cells. Improved nutrition in turn delays ageing and generally helps to keeps cells, and the body as a whole, healthy. For example:• Calcium - is essential to build and maintain teeth and bones. It is important for the metabolism of some enzymes. It is important in the initiation of the blood clotting process. It is also influential in the transport function of the cell membranes. It is required in nerve transmission and regulation of the heart beat and muscle tone. Deficiency leads to rickets, osteomalacia, osteoporosis, scurvy, leg cramps and hypertension. • Sodium – is the major cause for extracellular fluid. Sodium helps regulate the size of the extracellular compartment and the plasma fluid volume. It is also involved in the conduction of nerve impulses and muscle contraction control. • Potassium – constitutes 5% of the total mineral content of the body. It is the major cause of intracellular fluid. It is involved in the maintenance of normal water balance, osmotic equilibrium and acid-base balance. Along with Calcium it aids in the regulation of neuromuscular activity. Potassium also promoted cellular growth. Deficiency of potassium may lead to muscle weakness and mental apathy. Cardiac failure may also result. • Magnesium – is second to potassium as an intercellular caution. Magnesium is essential for the production and transfer of energy for protein synthesis and for contractility of muscle and
excitable nerves. It is also a co-factor in numerous enzyme systems. Magnesium deficiency results in loss of appetite, growth failure, ECG changes and neuromuscular changes.
Magnesium, Drinking Water and Health
According to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (1977) there had been more than 50 studies in nine countries, that have indicated an inverse relationship between water hardness and mortality from cardiovascular disease. That is, people who drink water which is deficient in magnesium and calcium generally appear more susceptible to this disease. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences has estimated that a nationwide initiative to add calcium and magnesium to soft water might reduce the average annual cardiovascular death rate by 150,000 in the United States.
Summary of Facts about RO Units
• • • • They have a slow delivery rate and normally require a pump for optimum performance. High maintenance costs. They lower the pH of the water, making it corrosive. They waste anything from 4 to 9 litres of precious water for every one litre of RO water produced as RO systems need to flush away the impurities taken out by the RO membrane. Although RO units are of definite benefit where the salt content of the water is high. They are seldom of benefit for areas with municipal water. Prolonged intake of RO water is detrimental to health.
References:• • • • • • • Is Your Water Destroying Your Health – Steffany A Langford, 1997 The Calcium Factor – The scientific secret of health and youth – Robert R Barefoot and Carl J Reich M.D. , 1992 Gordon T Reid – Reid Line Scientific Services (MSc UCT Water Technology) Groundwater and Human Health, Groundwater Resources of British Columbia, Dr Harold D Foster, 1994 Report of the Safe Drinking Water Committee of the National Academy of Sciences, 1977 The Magnesium Web Site, 2004 Water – The Complete Story – Rand Water Board
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