How Much Calcium is in Your Drinking Water? A Survey of Calcium Concentrations in Bottled and Tap Water and Their Significance for Medical Treatment and Drug Administration

HSS Journal

Joseph M. Lane, MD
Attending Orthopaedic Surgeon, Hospital for Special Surgery
Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Weill Medical College of Cornell University

Simon Morr
Hospital for Special Surgery

Esteban Cuartas
Jackson Memorial Hospital, Miami, FL

Basil Alwattar
NYU Medical Center

Introduction: Different forms of water vary in calcium content. High divalent ion (i.e., Ca2+, Mg2+, etc.) concentration is deleterious to the absorption and efficacy of the bisphosphonate group of drugs in osteoporosis treatment. Water with high calcium concentration may also present an alternate pathway of calcium administration. In either case, knowing the actual concentration is critical.

Hypothesis: The current paper is a surveillance study. We hypothesize that there is considerable variation in the calcium concentrations in the various water sources: tap water from US and Canadian cities of different regions and purified, spring, and mineral bottled waters. In addition, we hypothesize that the water filter removes a significant amount of minerals including calcium from the water.

Methodology: Calcium concentrations in various city tap waters, as well as an assorted number of bottled waters, were determined through the direct inspection of scientific data. The effect of filtering was also determined by mineral analysis of mineral water directly before and after filtration.

Result: The calcium concentration of water varies from 1 to 135 mg/L across the USA and Canada. Most spring waters were found to have a relatively low calcium concentration, with an average of 21.8 mg/L. Purified waters contain a negligible calcium concentration. Mineral waters, on the other hand, were generally found to contain higher calcium concentrations, an average of 208 mg/L of calcium. Filtration was found to remove a considerable amount of calcium from the water, removing 89% on average.

Conclusion: Calcium concentration in water varied substantially from different sources in the USA and Canada. Bottled waters presented with concentrations of calcium covering a very large range. Certain tap and bottled waters present with concentrations of calcium sufficient to exhibit a deleterious effect on bisphosphonate treatment. Alternatively, certain waters may be used as a source of calcium that may provide over 40% of the recommended daily intake for calcium.

This article appears in HSS Journal: Volume 2, Number 2.
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About the HSS Journal
HSS Journal, an academic peer-reviewed journal, is published twice a year, February and September, and features articles by internal faculty and HSS alumni that present current research and clinical work in the field of musculoskeletal medicine performed at HSS, including research articles, surgical procedures, and case reports.


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