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Which Bottled Water is Healthiest?

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Before you choose bottled water, note that all bottled waters are not created equal. Some bottled water companies provide misleading information or hide information about the water source and filtration methods used. Some bottled water is simply tap water in a bottle! When choosing bottled water, check the label to ensure you're getting the safest, highest quality product with the transparent information you need to track the water source.

Bottled Water Sources

Just because you're drinking bottled water doesn't mean you're getting contaminant-free spring water. In fact, some bottled water companies use municipal water sources, which means it's right from the tap. It may be difficult to determine the source bottled water originates from, unless it's listed on the label. The Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, notes that,

  • artesian and well water come from wells underground
  • spring water is collected when it travels to the surface,
  • mineral water is ground water containing specific levels of minerals
  • distilled water is condensed steam from boiling water

Bottled water often undergoes filtration to eliminate harmful levels of contaminants and microbes. However, the EPA notes that bottled water, like tap water, often contains at least small amounts of some contaminants.

What to Look For

According to the Environment Protection Agency, some bottled water labels list membership logos or seals from the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) or NSF International. Members of both of these organizations must meet model code standards and are subject to annual or unannounced inspections (including water testing) to ensure compliance with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration standards.

Top-Rated Label Transparency

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), an organization devoted to protecting the environment and human health, has ranked bottled water companies based on how transparently they disclose information about water sources, water treatment methods and access to water-quality test reports. Based on information provided by the EWG, highest-ranking bottled water companies with the most transparent labels (or those who don't withhold information regarding water quality) are Gerber Pure Purified Water, Penta Ultra-Purified Water, and Nestle Pure Life Purified Water.

Taste Considerations

Bottled water comes from a variety of sources and undergoes various filtration and purification methods that can affect the way the water tastes. Some bottled water contains added minerals to enhance flavor. Though you should choose bottled water based on how transparent the label is and whether or not it's certified by IBWA or NSF International, the water has to taste good for you to drink it. Trial and error will help you find the bottled water that's the best fit for your taste preference.

Bottled vs. Tap Water


Bottled water isn't necessarily safer than tap water. In fact, the Natural Resources Defense Council conducted a four-year review and test of bottled water and found that more than 25 percent of bottled water is simply tap water that may or may not be purified. The Environmental Working Group recommends drinking filtered tap water over bottled water to achieve the cleanest, safest drinking water. However, be sure to choose a high-quality water filter, follow filter maintenance instructions and change the water filter regularly.

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An experienced health, nutrition and fitness writer, Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian and holds a dietetics degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also has worked as a clinical dietitian and health educator in outpatient settings. Erin's work is published on popular health websites, such as TheNest.com and JillianMichaels.com

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