By Caitlin Schille

We all know hard water can cause buildup and make cleaning a little more difficult. Can it have negative effects on our health as well? Despite the trouble hard water can give us when it comes time to clean our appliances, there do not appear to be adverse human health effects.

The World Health Organization (WHO) maintains that hard water does not adversely affect your health. On the contrary, hard water may actually be good for you. Hard water contains a higher content of calcium and magnesium, two very important minerals for our health. This is the same calcium and magnesium that are found on a standard nutrition label. In fact, the health benefits are so great that one state department of health asserts that “studies have shown that people who regularly consume hard water throughout their lifetime have a lower rate of cardiovascular disease.” Wow! With cardiovascular disease being the number one cause of death among Americans, that is a great plug for drinking hard water.

There may be other health benefits in addition to protection against cardiovascular disease. According to the National Health Institute (NIH), “Some studies suggest there was a significant protective effect of calcium intake from drinking water on the risk of gastric cancer. Magnesium also exerted a protective effect against gastric cancer, but only for the group with the highest levels of magnesium exposure.” The NIH study also asserts that epidemiological data shows a relationship between hardness of drinking water and a lower risk of rectal cancer and pancreatic cancer mortality.

So, do not be afraid to drink your unfiltered hard water. Some may be suspicious because of its sometimes peculiar and displeasing taste, but hard water is not bad for your health. Don’t be deterred by hard water simply because you are afraid of harming your health. However, if you dislike the taste of hard water, you can minimize it. First of all, and most simply, you can install a water softener. A water softener will substitute sodium molecules for calcium and magnesium molecules. It should be noted, however, that studies have indicated that high sodium levels in drinking water can harm your health. Sodium, or salt, can adversely affect those who have been diagnosed with high blood pressure. In this case, there should be at least one faucet that bypasses the water softener so that those with high blood pressure can drink the normal water without being affected by increased sodium.

Hard water- hard on your toilet bowl, and maybe even your taste buds, but not hard on your health.

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Caitlin Schille
Caitlin Schille, MPH, is a writer and health expert for Healthy Magazine. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a B.S. in Public Health & Epidemiology and has a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Michigan. She is now a public health researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Caitlin Schille

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