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Alkaline Water: What Is It and Should You Drink It?

Chris enjoys writing about a variety of topics including science, health, and fitness.

alkaline-water-what-is-it-and-should-you-drink-it

If you are conscientious about what you put in your body, you may be wondering if the type of water that you drink matters. I can assure you that it does! However, probably not in the way you are thinking.

Water is one of the most important substances for maintaining good health and optimum body function. According to most sources online, an adult human body is comprised of up to 60% water (USGS, 2019). It’s no surprise then that the type of water you drink can have a direct impact on how you look, feel, and function on any given day.

Your body is naturally slightly alkaline, meaning that your pH is slightly higher than neutral. The typical pH value of the human body human ranges from 7.35 to 7.45; this is essential for living organisms as well as for cellular functionality (Schwalfenberg, 2012). When drinking water (or anything for that matter) your body must work hard to neutralize the acids and bases in order to keep your pH within this range.

When it comes to drinking water, most people in the developed world have many options to choose from. The local convenience store will likely have anywhere from 10 to 30 choices when it comes to bottled water. These beverages vary just as much in quality as they do in taste.

The latest trend to hit the bottled water scene is alkaline water. Bottled alkaline water comes both in processed forms (ionized water) and from natural springs located in select locations of the world (such as Iceland). Marketed as an even healthier option than “standard” bottled water, is there really anything of substance to their claims? The rest of this article will explore the science as well as opinions surrounding the alkaline water craze.

This alkaline water is bottled from a natural source.

This alkaline water is bottled from a natural source.

What is Alkaline Water?

Aside from ensuring that the water you consume is clean & pure, the alkalinity, or pH, is another key measure that many people often overlook. The pH value of any substances ranges from 0 (Very Acidic) to 14 (Very Alkaline) with 7 being completely neutral (USGS, 2019).

Pure distilled water would have a pH value of 7 whereas rainwater would typically be slightly acidic due to the absorption of Carbon Dioxide from the air. One way to think about this is that an alkaline substance is the opposite of an acidic substance. If you were to mix the two together, they would neutralize each other.

Most water that people drink will be nearly neutral or even slightly acidic in pH. However, alkaline water is now available in most convenience and grocery stores as it has become popular in recent years. The pH in these bottled beverages ranges from 7.4 to as high as 10.0. The table below shows some of the more popular bottled alkaline water as well as their claimed or stated pH.

*Data for table collected from various sources, see references at the end of the article.

Beverage BrandSourceClaimed pH

Acqua Panna Spring Water

Natural

8.0

Alkaline88 Alkaline Water

Artificial

8.8

Alkawonder Spring Water

Natural

9.4

Alkiss Water

Natural

8.0

AQUAHydrate Electrolyte Enhanced Alkaline Water

Artificial

9.0

Aspira Pura Water

Artificial

9.5

Bai Antioxidant Water

Artificial

7.5

blk. Alkaline Water

Artificial

8.0

BODYARMOR SportWater Alkaline Water

Artificial

9.0

CORE Hydration Water

Artificial

7.4

Diamond Creek Water

Artificial

9.5

Essence Water

Artificial

10.0

Essentia Water

Artificial

9.5

Eternal Naturally Alkaline Spring Water

Natural

7.8-8.2

Evamor Natural Alkaline Artesian Water

Natural

8.8-9.1

Flow Alkaline Spring Water

Natural

8.1

Generosity Alkaline Water

Artificial

10.0

Good & Gather Alkaline Water

Artificial

9.5

Greek Springs Water

Natural

8.0

Icelandic Glacial Natural Spring Water

Natural

8.4

Jove Alkaline Water

Artificial

9.5

JUST Water Pure Still Spring Water

Natural

8.0

LIFEWTR, Premium Purified Water

Artificial

7.4

Perfect Hydration 9.5+ pH Alkaline Water

Artificial

9.5

pHure Water

Artificial

9.5

Positive Beverage Alkaline Water

Artificial

9.0

Qure

Artificial

10.0

Smartwater Alkaline Water

Artificial

9.0

TEN Spring Water

Artificial

10.0

Waiakea Hawaiian Volcanic Water

Natural

8.2

ZenWTR Water

Artificial

9.5

It should be noted that according to typical pH data given in text books, seawater typically has a pH of 8.0 and pure baking soda (Sodium bicarbonate) has a pH of 9.5.

alkaline-water-what-is-it-and-should-you-drink-it

Claimed Benefits of Alkaline Water

Businesses and drink manufacturers will say just about anything to market their latest drink to you. Some claims may have some merit while others are completely bogus. There is no study or scientific research that shows a clear, direct benefit to drinking alkaline water. However, some studies have shown measurable changes or benefits in certain specific cases. If your bottle of water claims to cure cancer, this is undoubtedly false.

One question that is often asked about alkaline water is if it can help with acid reflux or GERD. One 2012 study showed that drinking alkaline water with a pH of 8.8 instantly neutralized stomach pepsin and helped to buffer the effects of acid reflux. The study concluded that alkaline water may have healing benefits for people suffering with acid reflux disease or GERD (Koufman, 2012). Please consult your doctor before attempting to treat your acid reflux symptoms with alkaline water.

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Another claim that you may see is that alkaline water prevents osteoporosis. There is no evidence of this. In fact, a study, published in Nutrition Journal, compared the impact of an acidic diet on osteoporosis and showed that acidity can contribute to bone loss. Noting that alkaline substance neutralize acidic ones, marketers jumped on the bandwagon to claim that alkaline water must have the opposite effect on bone health (Butler, 2017). Again, this claim is simply untrue as there is no evidence to support this (Schwalfenberg, 2012).

Another study conducted in 2012 concluded that alkaline diets may result in a number of health benefits such as decreased muscle wasting, improve growth hormone production, and increased intra-cellular magnesium (Schwalfenberg, 2012). However, this same study also concluded that there is no substantial evidence that drinking alkaline water improves bone health or protects from osteoporosis, which is often one of the most cited claims of this health craze.

In 2016, scientists studied the effects of high-pH water on blood viscosity in healthy adults to see if there were any measurable benefits to consuming alkaline water. The study evaluated blood viscosity for adults after a strenuous workout for two groups, one that drank water with a neutral pH and one that drank alkaline water. The study concluded that drinking high-pH water was shown to reduce systolic blood viscosity significantly more than drinking neutral water following exercise-induced dehydration (Weidman, 2016). Lower blood viscosity is linked with more efficient blood flow which results in increased oxygen delivery and improved carbon dioxide removal.

alkaline-water-what-is-it-and-should-you-drink-it

Potential Risks of Drinking Alkaline Water

Generally speaking, drinking alkaline water is considered safe (Goldman, 2022). However, even considering the potential benefits of drinking alkaline water, there are some potential risks that you should be aware of.

Since alkaline water has a high pH, it will lower acidity levels within your stomach (as evidenced by Kaufman, 2012). Natural stomach acid is very strong and it is one of the ways that your body defends itself from invading pathogens and bacteria. Having weak or neutralized stomach acid can potentially allow bacteria to pass your stomach and make it into your bloodstream. Obviously, this can make you sick.

Another problem is that if the pH in your stomach gets too low, your body may enter a state of metabolic alkalosis. If this occurs you may begin to experience gastrointestinal issues such as indigestion, nausea, and even vomiting.

The bottom line here is that there is not enough scientific research on the subject and the isn’t enough evidence to support the claims that drinking alkaline water can improve health as compared to drinking neutral or acidic water. However, if one thing is certain, it’s that drinking water is definitely better than drinking sugary sodas or artificially flavored and sweetened beverages.

alkaline-water-what-is-it-and-should-you-drink-it

References and Resources

Butler, Natalie. “Is alkaline water good for your?” Medical News Today. December 6, 2017. <https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/313681>

Emma (Sunrise Specialty Staff). “10 Best Alkaline Water Brands of 2022 – Reviews & Buyer Guides.” Sunrise Specialty. June, 2022. <https://www.sunrisespecialty.com/alkaline-water-brands>

Goldman, Rena. “Alkaline Water: Benefits and Risks” Healthline. May 5, 2022. <https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/alkaline-water-benefits-risks

Koufman, Jamie A, and Nikki Johnston. “Potential benefits of pH 8.8 alkaline drinking water as an adjunct in the treatment of reflux disease.” The Annals of otology, rhinology, and laryngology vol. 121,7 (2012): 431-4. doi:10.1177/000348941212100702 <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22844861/>

Ortiz, Pete. “10 Best Alkaline Water Brands in 2022 – Reviews & Top Picks.” House Grail. May 3, 2022. <https://housegrail.com/best-alkaline-water-brands/>

Schwalfenberg, Gerry K. “The alkaline diet: is there evidence that an alkaline pH diet benefits health?.” Journal of environmental and public health vol. 2012 (2012): 727630. doi:10.1155/2012/727630 <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3195546/>

Water Science School. “pH and Water.” United States Geological Survey. October 22, 2019. <https://www.usgs.gov/special-topics/water-science-school/science/ph-and-water>

Water Science School. “The Water in You: Water and the Human Body.” United States Geological Survey. May 22, 2019. <https://www.usgs.gov/special-topics/water-science-school/science/water-you-water-and-human-body>

Weidman, J., Holsworth, R.E., Brossman, B. et al. Effect of electrolyzed high-pH alkaline water on blood viscosity in healthy adults. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 13, 45 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-016-0153-8 <https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-016-0153-8>

This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2022 Christopher Wanamaker

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