THE CLINIC: Is Alkaline Water Necessary?

Thu, 13 Sept. 2012 - 2:02 a.m. MT
Credit: ARA Staff - American Running Association

Advanced Hydration Technology alkaline drinking water is slightly alkaline on the pH scale. This mild level of alkalinity is perfect to help maintain the 7.35 – 7.45 average pH level that is optimum for your blood…pH is a factor that has a critical effect on your blood’s capacity to uptake, carry and deliver oxygen to all parts of your body…A lower pH means blood is leaving your lungs with less oxygen, delivering less oxygen and eliminating waste less efficiently…
—Xtreme Technologies (Coeur d’Alene, Idaho) sales literature
I've recently been told that water, either bottled or tap, probably has a PH
level too low for good health and that we should purchase enhanced waters,
PH level testers, etc. What is the real story on this issue? If true, what
recommendations do you have for purchases?
Janet Eliot
Green Cove Springs, FL
Sometimes nature provides for dissolved elements in potable water which can
influence water's total benign presence. If calcium is dissolved, which can
happen with some mineral waters, if anything, it would be slightly basic
with a pH greater than 7.0 The body can handle this but in general its
biochemical processes prefer slightly acidic chemistries. 
Most waters, whether tap or bottled, are not acidic enough to warrant any concern. Too acidic, and our teeth would start to mottle, pit, and crack over time...not seen as far
as I know.
Ed Nessel, RPh, MS, MPH, PharmD
Viera, FL
I am no authority on bottled water, but if I remember back to high school
chemistry, tap water is very close to neutral pH (i.e. 7.0). In either case,
the pH of any water is certainly higher than orange juice or vinegar
(ascorbic acid and acetic acid) and nobody worries about ingesting those.
Besides, whatever you ingest is going within seconds into the stomach which
has a pH of 2 or 3 (if I remember my medical school gastric physiology). I
doubt that ingesting any amount of water would significantly affect the pH
of our stomach contents. If anything, Pepcid or any of the H2 antagonists
would be far more effective at raising the pH of the stomach contents than
artificially altering the pH of ingested water. This sounds to me like
classic Madison Avenue pseudoscience. "I just happen to have a product in
the back of my wagon which is guaranteed to cure your (fill in the blank)."
Klaud Miller, MD
Evanston, IL
There does appear to be an optimal pH level for drinking water.  It 
Is just above the neutral point of 7.0.  However, most public health 
supplies meet that standard and there doesn’t appear to be any need for 
D.C. Huddy, PhD, CHES
Athens, WV
I know of no credible scientific studies that indicate that the pH of 
water is important.  The stomach is highly acidic anyway so
any water you drink is not likely to make a difference once it enters 
the highly acidic stomach.
If you want a lower pH water, simply buy regular water 
and add lemon juice to it and save yourself some money.
John McPhail, MD
Okemos, MI

DISCLAIMER: The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-physician relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. Please consult your health care provider before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition.
The American Running Association (ARA) and its Clinic Advisory Board disclaims responsibility and shall have no liability for any consequences suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained in this site. ARA does not endorse specifically any test, treatment, or procedure mentioned on this site.

(RUNNING & FITNEWS® January / February 2009 • Volume 27, Number 1)

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