Although I have already written a long detailed article on René Quinton’s book and his experiments on sea water, I wanted to write this article about the position of modern science on the bio-availability of minerals in the water. Indeed, the bio-availability of minerals in water continues to be debated in the naturopathic community. My position is clear: yes, the minerals in water (fresh and sea) are bio-available and have significant health effects.
To write this article, I used several studies, which I have listed in my sources at the end of this article. Unfortunately, recent scientific studies that have been carried out on the health effects of ingested seawater only relate to desalinated refined seawater. Yet René Quinton, a French scientist who popularized the use of therapeutic seawater in the early 20th century, demonstrated that unrefined, undesalinated seawater not only contains bio-available minerals and trace elements for the human body, but also these minerals in their form and their natural ratios such as found naturally in seawater make it possible to cure a multitude of diseases without causing serious side effects.
Even though these studies focus on desalinated seawater, their conclusions are nonetheless relevant to the effects of seawater minerals on health.
The seawater used in the studies on which this article is based was mainly refined deep seawater, obtained at a depth of more than 200m and desalinated via electrodialysis, of the Amami noMizu brand and with a hardness of 1000.
The seawater used was desalinated because high sodium water can cause dehydration and can increase inflammation.
In Amami noMizu brand desalinated water, the ratio of the main minerals Mg Ca K and Na is 3:1:1:1 instead of 3:1:1:26 before refining.
Deep sea water comes from deep sea levels, which are far from pollution except for the natural occurrence of dangerous chemicals such as arsenic and mercury.
Deep sea water is rarely polluted, has little or no bacteria and is very pure. It can thus provide a source of safe drinkable water.
Deep sea water is generally associated with the following characteristics: low temperature, high purity and rich in nutrients, including magnesium, calcium, potassium, chromium, selenium, zinc and vanadium. Less photosynthesis of plant planktons, consumption of nutrients, and organic decomposition have caused lots of nutrients to remain there.
Health properties of seawater
Studies show that minerals are best absorbed when consumed in their ionized form, especially in their water-soluble form.
Clinical trials have confirmed various beneficial effects of refined deep sea water in humans in broad areas such as hemorheology, allergies, immunology, and infectious diseases (eg, anti-Helicobacter pylori). No adverse effects from even long-term consumption (one year) of 1 L/day have been reported in clinical trials. Refined deep sea water alleviates constipation and abdominal discomfort, and is also safe for concurrent administration with pharmaceutical agents.
Refined deep sea water is a good source of nutrients. The minerals it contains (mainly Mg, Ca, Cr, Se, V as well as many trace elements) offer many health benefits:
Mg (Magnesium) is important for many physiological processes in the body, such as energy metabolism and enzyme functions. In one study, Mg was able to reduce lipid accumulation in the aorta of subjects with high cholesterol intake. It is postulated that Mg was not the only lipid lowering factor, as other trace minerals like selenium may also be involved. Magnesium is beneficial for people with cardiovascular disease because it can reduce the risk of heart attack by dilating blood vessels and stopping spasms in heart muscles and vessel walls. It is also able to reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes and asthma. Osmotic seawater with high levels of hardness and Mg has an important protective and therapeutic effect in eczema/atopic dermatitis syndrome and cataracts. Seawater must be taken on the long run to be able to observe benefits : in the study, the serum Mg level did not increase until the third week of seawater consumption.
Ca (calcium) is one of the main minerals present in seawater, it is also one of the main minerals for humans. It is necessary for health: for the development and density of bones, and it acts as an essential cofactor for several enzymes necessary for energy metabolism. Adequate Ca intake can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, and some forms of cancer. A Calcium-rich diet is able to increase lipolysis and preserve thermogenesis during caloric restriction, markedly accelerating weight loss.
Seawater is generally richer in magnesium than in calcium. When comparing the contents of Ca2+ and Mg2+, the main divalent minerals in seawater, the Mg2+ content was about 3 to 4 times higher than that of Ca2+.
Cr (chromium) is an essential nutrient required for the metabolism of carbohydrates and lipids. It has antioxidant properties which are useful for the development of cellular life.
V (vanadium) has the potential to reduce lipids and has shown efficacy in inhibiting adipocyte differentiation of fat cells.
Selenium has been shown to affect the functions of several specific intracellular selenoproteins, including glutathione peroxidases and thioredoxin reductases, which have important antioxidant and detoxifying functions.
High concentrations of Mg2+ and selenium play an important role in the preventive action of seawater and may have therapeutic potential, especially in the health of the intestinal epithelium.
The other deep sea water trace minerals such as sulfate, lithium, molybdenum, silicon and zinc, etc. also have many health benefits, which are yet to be elucidated.
A study showed that, when the eﬀects of the main minerals in deep seawater (calcium and magnesium), at the same hardness as that of deep seawater, were examined, the eﬀect was lower than that of deep seawater, because of the many trace elements in seawater which make all these minerals more bio-available.
Deep sea water hardness up to 1500 did not cause any cytotoxic effects in an in vitro study. However, the maximum hardness of it for human consumption should be studied.
Mineral-rich water is healthier than low-mineral water
The prevalence of cardiovascular mortality and sudden death is 10% to 30% higher in soft water areas that have low amounts of Mg or Ca ions, compared to hard water areas that have high amounts of Mg or Ca ions in the water supply.
The importance of mineral content in drinking water is proven: its intake is able to reduce calcium oxalate stones in the kidneys of people who consume drinking water rich in minerals such as Mg, Ca and bicarbonate. On the other hand, the consumption of water with low calcium content has led to the increase in hip fracture in the Norwegian population according to a study.
According to another study, the group that drank water with low mineral content had higher risks of cardiovascular disease, compared to the group that drank water with high mineral content.
One of the mechanisms of mineral water to treat diseases is through the content of minerals capable of activating the aquaporin genes, responsible for transporting water within cells. Lack of activation of the aquaporin gene has been linked to many diseases. Minerals in seawater are abundant and therefore could be a major factor in curing illnesses.
The conclusion of all these studies is that nutrient intake should not depend solely on dietary intake: seawater is rich in minerals and should be considered a good source of nutrients.
Eczema / Dermatitis
In a study, in magnesium-deficient rats, levels of histamine, interleukin-1 (the key cytokine in innate immune responses), and substance P were elevated. The deficiency also caused eczema and dermatitis.
Patients with eczema/dermatitis syndrome (AEDS) typically have an imbalance of various essential minerals in their hair, and some people have toxic mineral levels. In one study, drinking seawater restored levels of essential minerals such as Selenium and reduced levels of toxic metals such as mercury and lead in treated patients.
An in vivo study revealed that seawater can heal atopic skin lesions by improving symptoms of edema, erythema, dryness, itching, transepidermal water loss, decrease in epidermal thickness and inflammatory cell infiltration.
In another study, seawater ingestion decreased inflammatory skin responses in 27 of 33 patients, decreased inflammatory cell infiltration, IgE, histamine, and inflammatory cytokines due to its increased levels in magnesium and selenium.
In one study, patients with eczema and dermatitis drank 500 ml per day of seawater. After 1 year, skin symptoms by skin score were significantly improved in deep sea water group, while they were unchanged in control group serum levels of anti-Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus and anti Japanese cedar pollen IgE, and IgE-inducing cytokines IL-4, IL-13 and IL-18 were decreased significantly in deep water sea group, while they were not decreased in control group.
The seawater used in the study was seawater from which the majority of the sodium had been removed: Amami noMizu hardness of 1000, 500ml contained Mg (100.0 mg), Na (37.0 mg), Ca (35.5 mg), and K (34.5 mg) and other trace elements (Zn: 2.0 µg. Cu: 2.2 µg. I: 4.5ug. P: 4.5 µg, Se: 0.2 µg).
Seawater is beneficial not only when ingested but also when applied topically: bathing in a Dead Sea salt solution rich in magnesium improves skin barrier function, skin hydration and reduces inflammation of dry atopic skin.
Consumption of seawater containing Mg as the main cation significantly reduces whole blood flow time and blood pressure.
In one study, hypertensive rats that were treated with seawater for eight weeks had lower blood pressure than the control group. Although the seawater used in the study contained a high amount of salt, blood pressure did not increase. In another study, the use of seawater did not affect blood pressure.
Many combinations of minerals in seawater, such as Mg, Ca, and Na, are associated with reduced blood pressure. Na content may induce hypertension, although Mg supplementation may lower blood pressure by suppressing adrenergic activity and, possibly, natriuresis. Interestingly, high Mg content can lower blood pressure in the presence of sodium.
Seawater has therapeutic potential to prevent diabetes-related cardiovascular diseases: consumption of deep seawater diluted in desalinated water has beneficial effects on myocardial hypertrophy and induced cardiac apoptosis by hypercholesterolemia and has anti-inflammatory effects on diabetic cardiomyopathy.
According to studies involving animal models, deep, desalinated seawater exerts cholesterol-lowering and antiatherogenic effects, probably by modulating lipid metabolism. It exerts additional beneficial effects including inhibition of hyperlipemia, hypertension, obesity, diabetes mellitus, duodenal ulcer and cataract formation.
Seawater has antiatherogenic properties due to the presence of many beneficial mineral ions such as Mg and Ca.
Seawater is able to improve cholesterol levels in blood serum and liver.
In one study, its applications reduced levels of triglycerides, LDL and total cholesterol in the serum and liver of animal models. Drinking water produced from deep sea water that contains 600 mg of Mg lowers cholesterol levels by 18%. A study on hypercholesterolemic humans proved that seawater could reduce total cholesterol and LDL and decrease lipid peroxidation in these subjects. Seawater intake increased faecal cholesterol and bile acid excretion, thereby decreasing total cholesterol levels.
Consumption of deep sea water reduces lipid profile, levels of serum thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances, and lipid peroxidation levels in hypercholesterolemic subjects and increases activity of the antioxidant enzyme glutathione peroxidase-1, probably due to its high content of Mg2+ and Ca2+
The prevalence of cardiovascular mortality and sudden death is 10% to 30% higher in soft water areas, which have low amounts of Mg or Ca ions, compared to hard water areas which have high amounts of Mg or Ca ions in the water supply.
In one study, seawater was able to improve glucose intolerance and suppress high blood sugar, indicating its ability to treat diabetes.
Its application caused the pancreatic islets of Langerhans to regain their size and increased the secretion of glucagon and insulin. Seawater showed improvement results regarding the expression of hepatic genes involved in glycogenolysis and glucose oxidation. While in muscle, glucose uptake, β-oxidation and glucose oxidation were increased by its supplementation. Plasma glucose levels in seawater-fed mice were significantly reduced by 35.4% compared to the control group of mice. The antidiabetic properties of seawater were associated with mineral ions such as Mg and Ca.
Seawater has anti-obesity properties and has been proven to reduce fat and body weight.
It has been hypothesized that Mg and Ca are not the primary factors in fat reduction, the roles of many trace elements in seawater remain to be elucidated.
Protects the liver and kidneys
Seawater protects from hepatic problems:
In a study, deep sea water has decreased the lipid accumulation in livers, which are associated with the increase in daily faecal lipid and bile acid outputs. The hepatic antioxidative levels were also improved by its application, which were proven by the high capacity levels of liver glutathione and trolox equivalent antioxidant.
According to the available studies, the hardness of seawater ranging from 0 to 1500 did not cause any damage to the liver and kidneys.
Some minerals and metals in drinking water can be detrimental to gut health, while others are beneficial.
A study on the correlation between water consumption and Chronic Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Norway suggested that iron in drinking water is an important cause of IBD. High iron content in drinking water acts as a catalyst for oxidative stress, causing inadequate immune responses that cause inflammation and stimulate bacterial growth.
On the contrary, drinking refined deep sea water improves gut health.
Refined deep sea water can reduce symptoms of colitis, due to magnesium and other minerals. Magnesium deficiency causes asymptomatic inflammation of the small intestine.
A study was made on 2 groups: the first was given refined deep sea water, the 2nd group received mineral water. Each group consumed 1L per day for 12 weeks.
The seawater group saw an increase in short-chain fatty acids in their feces, a decrease in phenols and secretory immunoglobulin A, and an increase in urinary isoflavones (gut microbes produce metabolites, such as isoflavones)
Constipation was significantly improved in the seawater group (94%) compared to the mineral water group (60%). It is generally accepted that SCFAs act as a source of energy and stimulate the colon epithelium, which facilitates peristaltic movement.
Constipation relief likely resulted in lower phenol and sIgA concentrations in the seawater group.
In another study, Mg supplementation resulted in improved restoration of mucosal integrity.
In a study on different refined seawaters at different mineral concentrations, it was found that magnesium-rich High Magnesium Low Salt seawater could suppress TNF-α and thus alleviate inflammatory bowel disease. In addition, magnesium seems to inhibit NF-κ B and decrease the release of inflammatory cytokines by increasing basal intracellular levels of IkB α. HMLS seawater suppressed inflammatory gene expression more strongly than Trace Minerals seawater (where only trace minerals were retained).
HMLS seawater promoted the generation of B cells and reduced the expression of H2-Ab1 and Hbb-b1, which are linked to MHCII molecules involved in the immune response. This finding was consistent with a previous finding that a calcium-rich diet maintains gut permeability and protects against IBD-related gut inflammation in HLA-B27 transgenic mice.
A seawater sample with HMLS inhibited the increase in permeability and strongly protected the expression of intestinal binding protein.
In an in vivo model, this seawater sample improved the colonic disease state of BALB/c mice with induced colitis.
Supplementing drinking water with high magnesium content and low salt content can improve anti-inflammatory properties and protein binding protection.
Through different studies, seawater has been shown to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-apoptotic protection in the duodenal epithelium and alleviate acetic acid-induced duodenal ulcers and apoptosis in the model of rats. It has been suggested that this effect is related to its high selenium content.
This is the first study to show that seawater itself can directly scavenge the amount of H2O2 and HOCl and upregulate antioxidant (Txnrd1) and anti-apoptotic (Bcl-2) genes and protein expression in the duodenal epithelium by the action of selenium, but not MgCl2.
With respect to peptic ulcer, one article reported that inhibitory effects of refined seawater on the growth and motility of H. pylori were found. At a hardness of 1000, anti-H. pylori activities were observed.
One liter of refined seawater was administered daily for 10 days to healthy subjects infected with H. pylori. Anti-H. Pylori effects in vivo were observed in ≥90% of subjects drinking seawater. The data also revealed that increased seawater hardness dose-dependently inhibited the growth of H. pylori.
Ingestion of deep sea water inhibits endotoxin-induced septic inflammation, inflammatory foam cell infiltration in the hyperlipidemic aorta, and nitric oxide levels in the cataract lens, primarily due to its high Mg2+ content.
Deep sea water can improve fatigue and exercise intensity. Its administration promoted endurance and reduced the fatigue period of rats during an exercise test. The ratios between elimination and increase in lactic acid were improved in rats treated with deep sea water. The results suggest that deep sea water, which contains boron, magnesium, lithium and rubidium, can supplement and improve human molecular and cellular complexity during exercise, eradicate muscle damage induced by exercise and strengthen antioxidant capacity against oxidative stress.
Deep sea water can exert this anti-fatigue effect by increasing antioxidant activity, as follows: Mg, which participates in energy metabolism, catalyzing or activating more than 300 kinds of enzymes, is a necessary cofactor of a series of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) enzymes and plays an extremely important role in promoting protein synthesis. Additionally, Mg is involved in signal transduction, affecting parathyroid secretion. The study by Rock and al mentioned that free radical-mediated injury could contribute to skeletal muscle damage resulting from Mg deficiency. Magnesium deficiency has been closely associated with the production of ROS, cytokines and eicosanoids, as well as vascular damage in vivo. The center of activity of GSH-Px is selenocysteine and selenium is a necessary part of GSH-Px. There is a direct association between inoxidizability and trace elements. Determination of GSH-Px can be used as a measure of the vitality of the selenium levels of a biochemical indicator. Coenzyme Q has an anti-fatigue effect in mice. The compound of coenzym Q requires selenium, and its enzyme activity is associated with the content of selenium. Coenzyme Q is the important electronic delivery vector of mitochondrial respiratory chain redox and contributes to mitochondrial ATP synthesis, as well as non-enzymatic antioxidants. Lithium can increase the capability for scavenging free radical in animals, and increases the resilience of a cell against destructive free radical attack.
In addition, trace elements such as copper and zinc are highly correlated to antioxidants. CuZn-SOD is an SOD that can scavenge superoxide anion radicals and protect cells from damage. Copper and zinc constitute the prosthetic group of CuZn-SOD. Zinc is associated with the stability of the enzyme whereas copper is associated with the activity of the enzyme. The long issimus muscle area and percentage of muscling were increased in pigs fed by chromium picolinate, which indicates that chromium may strengthen muscles.
The main ingredients of deep sea water, taken from the west rim of the Pacific Ocean in the present study, were Mg, calcium, potassium, cobalt, selenium, zinc, boron, chromium and vanadium. Therefore, deep sea water can supply a variety of minerals and trace elements required for the antioxidant system, which serve to improve the activity of antioxidant enzymes to reduce lipid peroxidation level, resist exercise-induced oxidative stress and ultimately cause an anti-fatigue effect to promote physical recovery within sports.
Deep seawater application can delay cataract development. This effect is associated with the presence of Mg and Ca content in Deep seawater.
Deep seawater has therapeutic potential on osteoporosis. Deep seawater at hardness 1000 showed significant increase in proliferation of osteoblastic cell (MC3T3). In the in vivo study that uses Deep seawater for 4 months, bone mineral density was strongly enhanced.
Data show that seawater has inhibitory effects on breast cancer metastasis, suggesting that seawater holds promise for improving cancer survival by preventing tumor metastasis.
Seawater was found to be richer in magnesium than in calcium. The importance of calcium-to-magnesium intake ratios in minimizing the risk of rectal cancer has been reported : a calcium-to-magnesium ratio of 1.7 or 2.5 signiﬁcantly reduced cancer.
Minerals in deep seawater accelerate fermentation processes
The minerals in seawater accelerate the fermentation processes. Iso-amyl acetic acid, ethyl capron acid and ethyl capric acid, which determine the quality of sake, all have about 30-70% faster production with seawater. Each single addition of isolated minerals sodium, magnesium, calcium, and potassium also stimulated some fermentation, but none of these achieved the stimulation provided by seawater. A similar acceleration of fermentation was observed in beer, shoyu sauce, miso, bread, pickles and other foods and drinks, and is considered as resulting from a possible combination of effects of minerals in seawater.
The minerals and trace elements in seawater are not only bio-available but can improve many conditions such as eczema, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, stomach ulcers, cataracts, osteoporosis and even cancer.
Moreover, contrary to popular belief, sodium in seawater does not cause hypertension or kidney disease, due to the magnesium and other minerals and trace elements present in seawater, which are hypotensive and protect the kidneys.
Studies, in agreement with what René Quinton had demonstrated, show that the beneficial effects of seawater are not caused by one or two minerals in particular, but by the synergy of all the minerals and trace elements present in Seawater.
Moreover, artificial seawater, i.e. distilled water to which all the main minerals of seawater are artificially added, does not have such significant therapeutic effects as natural seawater, because of all the trace minerals present in natural seawater that gives it its unique medicinal properties.