Alkaline Water: Benefits, Side Effects, and Dangers (2024)

Alkaline water is slightly less acidic than regular drinking water and contains alkaline minerals. However, not all of its purported benefits are supported by research.

You may have heard various health claims about alkaline water. Some say it can help regulate your pH level, slow the aging process, and prevent chronic diseases like cancer.

It’s critical to understand that the pH levels in your blood cannot be changed drastically through diet, including by drinking alkaline water. Your kidneys and lungs ensure that the levels stay within a very strict range of 7.35-7.45 for its pH level, which you need for healthy functioning.

So, should you drink alkaline water, and is there evidence for the other potential benefits?

The “alkaline” in alkaline water refers to its pH level. A pH level is a number that measures how acidic or alkaline a substance is on an approximate scale of 0 to 14. For example, something with a pH of 1 would be very acidic, and something with a pH of 13 would be very alkaline.

Alkaline minerals in alkaline water, such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, or iron, determine its pH.

Alkaline water vs. regular water

Alkaline water has a higher pH level than regular drinking water. Some advocates of alkaline water believe it can neutralize the acid in your body, though this isn’t supported by any research.

Regular drinking water generally has a neutral pH of 7. Alkaline water typically has a pH of 8 or 9. However, pH alone isn’t enough to impart substantial alkalinity to water.

Alkaline water must contain alkaline minerals and negative oxidation-reduction potential (ORP). ORP is the ability of water to act as a pro- or antioxidant. The more negative the ORP value, the more anti-oxidizing it is.

Alkaline water is somewhat controversial. Many health professionals say there isn’t enough research to support the many health claims made by users and sellers. Differences in research findings may be related to the types of alkaline water studies.

There are a few studies that suggest alkaline water might be helpful for your health in particular ways:

  • A 2020 study on mice found that daily intake of alkaline water improved DNA aging markers.
  • A 2018 study on mice suggested alkaline water may help reduce nonalcoholic fatty liver disease symptoms.
  • A small 2018 study in Japan suggested that drinking alkaline electrolyzed water slightly improved stool in 60 human participants.
  • A 2016 study that included 100 people found a significant difference in whole blood viscosity after consuming high-pH water compared to regular water after a strenuous workout. Viscosity is the direct measurement of how efficiently blood flows through your vessels.
  • A 2021 study suggests it may help improve bone density in postmenopausal people with osteoporosis.

Additional larger studies on humans are needed to explore these findings. Research is also needed to answer other unbacked claims suggesting that alkaline water has:

  • pro-aging properties (via liquid antioxidants that absorb more quickly into the human body)
  • colon-cleansing properties
  • immune system support
  • hydration, skin health, and other detoxifying properties
  • weight loss
  • cancer resistance

Green tea is rich in antioxidants and has a slightly negative ORP.

Alkaline drinking water is considered safe. Currently, no evidence demonstrates negative side effects.

Although alkaline water has a different pH than regular water, your body will make physiological changes, like continuing to produce hydrochloric acid, to regulate the stomach’s pH levels and achieve homeostasis, which is a state of stability.

Water that’s naturally alkaline occurs when it passes over rocks — like springs — and picks up minerals, which increase its alkaline level.

However, many people who drink alkaline water buy alkaline water that’s been through a chemical process called electrolysis.

This technique uses a product called an ionizer to raise the pH of regular water. Makers of ionizers say that electricity is used to separate molecules in the water that are more acidic or alkaline. The acidic water is then funneled out.

Still, some doctors and researchers say these claims aren’t backed by quality research. The water quality of the source, before ionization, is crucial to ensuring contaminants aren’t present in the drinking water.

Some scientists advise using reverse osmosis to adequately purify water before connecting an alkaline ionizer, which can raise pH and add minerals.

There are also some other safety concerns to drinking ionized alkaline water. When you drink it regularly, there is a greater chance of developing hyperkalemia, particularly if the pH of the water is greater than 9.8.

Other concerns include that it could hinder growth, deplete minerals and vitamins from the body, and interfere with nutrient absorption. Additionally, it might harm your mucosal lining and result in excessive thirst.

Alkaline water can be bought in many grocery or health food stores. It can also be found online. Water ionizers are sold in many large chain stores as well.

You can also make your own at home. Adding pH drops or baking soda is another way to make water more alkaline.

If water is properly filtered to remove contaminants, ionized and re-mineralized, or purchased from a quality source, there’s no evidence to suggest a limitation on how much alkaline water can be consumed daily.

Is alkaline water actually healthy?

Alkaline water is slightly less acidic than regular drinking water and contains alkaline minerals. Drinking alkaline water is generally safe, but research hasn’t definitively provided evidence for the benefits associated with it.

What are the pros and cons of alkaline water?

Drinking alkaline water can help you increase the amount of important minerals in the body and may help with certain health conditions.

That said, there isn’t enough evidence to support all the potential benefits, and there may be some health risks if you drink it long-term.

What is the benefit of drinking alkaline water?

Alkaline water is slightly less acidic than regular drinking water. Some research, though mostly on animals, has identified possible health benefits, including

  • improved markers of aging in the DNA of the mice
  • reduced symptoms of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in mice
  • slightly improved stool in human participants
  • significant difference in whole blood viscosity after a strenuous workout
  • improved bone density in postmenopausal people with osteoporosis

Who should not drink alkaline water?

People with kidney disease or other types of impaired kidney function should avoid drinking alkaline water without supervision, especially if it is ionized.

The issue that many health professionals have with alkaline water isn’t its safety but rather the health claims that are made about it.

While there is some research, there still isn’t enough scientific evidence to support using alkaline water as a treatment for any health condition. Medical experts warn against believing all the marketing claims.

Drinking natural alkaline water is generally considered safe since it contains natural minerals.

However, you should use caution with artificial alkaline water, which likely contains fewer good minerals than its high pH would have you believe and may contain contaminants. More research is needed to determine its benefits.

Alkaline Water: Benefits, Side Effects, and Dangers (2024)


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