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There is no strict definition of what is considered the best mineral water. The term itself is sometimes used to describe water that is not truly mineral water at all. The best choice would be the water that has the best taste and texture to the person who is drinking it. The mixture of minerals affects the taste and may provide very minor health benefits, but only in the case of true mineral waters that have a measurable mineral content. It also is important to be able to distinguish actual mineral-containing water from what is simply purified water to choose the best.
There are specific guidelines that determine what types of water can be officially labeled as mineral water. First, the water must have a minimum of 250 mineral parts per million suspended in the water. Secondly, it must originate from a natural, protected, underground source. The water also must have had no minerals added to it.
The only way to choose the best mineral water is actually to taste different varieties. The bottle must be labeled as mineral water; otherwise, it might simply be purified water from a local reservoir. The confusion comes from the fact that, in some areas, the terms "mineral" and "bottled" water are used interchangeably, despite the required labeling of the source and contents of the water.
Each bottle of water contains a unique mixture of minerals that are determined by the geological composition of the source location. The country of origin does not play a large part in mineral content, but the makeup of the underground source does. Some waters have very high concentrations of minerals, while others have just the minimum necessary for classification.
Mineral water can be effervescent, bubbling like a carbonated soda. This can occur naturally, through the release of gases in the water, or it can be added through the carbonation process. When trying to choose the best mineral water, the like or dislike of carbonation can make a large difference.
In the United States and some other countries, it is illegal to advertise that mineral water provides any health benefits, so this factor should not be used to determine what water is the best. While no studies have shown clear-cut evidence that the water provides health benefits, it can provide very small amounts of minerals to the body that may or may not be absorbed. In the same way, the water could contain harmful minerals, such as high levels of sodium, but this has not been shown to be detrimental.