Is Reverse Osmosis Water Good for You? Or Does It Over-Filter?

June 19, 2017
Reverse osmosis water - Dr. Axe

Clean drinking water is difficult to come by. In places like California, water is scarce thanks to drought. In third-world countries, there’s a lack of infrastructure to provide potable water. And even in our own homes, tap water toxicity is a real concern, as toxins like lead and arsenic have been found ­­flowing through the tap. It’s just one of the reasons that reverse osmosis water advocates believe that reverse osmosis is the way to ensure safe drinking water.

What Is Reverse Osmosis Water?

Though reverse osmosis sounds like a biology class you might’ve missed, in reality, it’s just a type of filtration process. In reverse osmosis, untreated water, like saltwater, flows through a semipermeable membrane and carbon filters.

The size of the membrane lets the water flow through the filter, but leaves behind salt, chemicals, minerals and impurities. The result is “pure” water that’s free from bacteria and minerals.

Can you drink reverse osmosis water?

Water that’s been treated through reverse osmosis is drinkable! Some cities use reverse osmosis when there’s an abundance of saltwater but not enough fresh water, like this plant in Australia.

You might have used even reverse osmosis in a water filter on a camping trip to ensure you had safe drinking water. You can also install a reverse osmosis system in your house or have a reverse osmosis filter at home.

Is Reverse Osmosis Good for You? The Advantages and Disadvantages of Reverse Osmosis Water

There are advantages to drinking water that’s gone through the reverse osmosis process. If you live in an area that’s plagued with water issues and concerns, this can be a good way for you to feel safe about the water that you’re drinking. If pesticide or herbicides are a concern in your community, filtering your water through a reverse osmosis system makes a lot of sense.

Reverse osmosis water is also a terrific option when you are camping or visiting a place with suspect local water. It’s one of the most effective systems for removing trace minerals in your water.

There are, however, some disadvantages to reverse osmosis water, too. For starters, most reverse osmosis systems have no way to differentiate between “bad” ingredients and good ones. So while harmful contaminants are being removed, so are the trace minerals that our bodies need to perform properly, like iron and manganese.

In an ideal world, this wouldn’t actually matter, because we’d be getting all the good stuff we need from the foods we eat. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case. Almost 10 percent of women, for example, are iron deficient, which can lead to anemia. And a manganese deficiency can throw our entire body out of whack, as the mineral is critical in balancing hormones. If we’re already not getting enough vitamins and minerals from our diet, and then we’re extracting them from our water supply as well, it can lead to a higher risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Additionally, cooking with demineralized water, like reverse osmosis water, actually reduces the amounts of vitamins and minerals found in whole foods. For example, when using demineralized water, like reverse osmosis water, you can lose up to 60 percent of magnesium or 70 percent of manganese in your food. (1) Water wants to bond to everything, and it will take the minerals where it can — like in your food.

In fact, the World Health Organization released a report about its concerns over reverse osmosis water and over the fact that much attention has been given on how the process removes contaminants, without the same thorough examination over what happens when folks are drinking this demineralized water. (2)

The report says that reverse osmosis water “has a definite adverse influence on the animal and human organism.” It also mentions that “the potential for adverse health effects from long term consumption of demineralised water is of interest not only in countries lacking adequate fresh water but also in countries where some types of home water treatment systems are widely used or where some types of bottled water are consumed.”

In homes, reverse osmosis water systems actually wind up wasting water. There’s not as much pressure in these as there are in huge, industrial-size systems, so more energy is needed. In total, up to 85 percent of the water can be wasted to produce 15 percent of drinkable water. (3)

So, Should I Install a Reverse Osmosis System?

Sadly, this isn’t an easy answer! This is very much a personal decision for yourself, your family and your needs. If the water supply in your area is really sub par, and you feel that the reverse osmosis system is a better option than other filtration systems, it’s definitely better than ingesting ingredients like lead or arsenic.

However, if you’re merely curious about a reverse osmosis water system, definitely do your research. Check and see what minerals are removed during the process, as each system is different. If you’re concerned about the environment, it’s a good idea to ask how much water waste is produced for each gallon of water that’s filtered.

Finally, price will likely be a factor in your decision, too. Filters range from simple countertop and under-the-sink contraptions to household-wide systems.

Final Thoughts

  • Reverse osmosis is a way of filtering water.
  • There’s no real way for reverse osmosis to filter out harmful ingredients and leave good ones in.
  • Reverse osmosis can be a good option if you live somewhere with super contaminated water or as a short-term solution, like when you’re camping.
  • Unfortunately, removing all of the vitamins and minerals from your water supply can impact your health by leading to mineral deficiencies.
  • These systems can also waste a lot of water and energy.
  • Ultimately, the right decision is the one that works best for your family. Good luck!

Read Next: The Best Houseplants that Remove Pollution

From the sound of it, you might think leaky gut only affects the digestive system, but in reality it can affect more. Because Leaky Gut is so common, and such an enigma, I’m offering a free webinar on all things leaky gut. Click here to learn more about the webinar.

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  1. Mark on

    You may be right. But I know that reverse osmosis water tastes the best. has reviews on the best tasting water solutions

    • Arthur brunner on

      Yes it takes all minerals good and bad out, add 1/2 teaspoon of pink Himalayan salt per gallon of filtered water and you are golden.

    • Panda on

      Because ur body was detoxifying that up got migraine headache- the water matter for u but must to be clear water the tap water harmful ur health .the tap water contain a lot of poisons ,metals- hormones -bad bacteria . If u make research you will never drink tap water

  2. Rebecca on

    What do you think of the Pure Effect Water Filter? Apparently, it filters out as many contaminants as R.O. but the water retains the minerals. They use granular zeolite along with a couple of other filtration medias.

  3. Rado Kraskovic on

    Me and my family drink water for 17 years, filtered by reverse osmosis. We do not have any bad effects at the time.
    If it has good things in the water (minerals in the first place, vitamins certainly do not have), what is the amount of water should be consumed by one person to meet the daily needs for minerals? All the necessary nutrients should be taken from the food, and the pure water is the one that distributes it in our body. The kidneys will thank you for the clean water.
    Read the company’s annual reports on water distribution in cities and see that there is almost nothing in the water that our body accepts. All minerals are in the form of compounds and inorganic origin. On the other hand, there are many mechanical, chemical impurities and microorganisms in the water, although water is chlorinated.
    I recommend everyone to install in the kitchen RO system. The savings are high because there is no need for the purchase of bottled water, which is still on the market 70-80% also processed by RO.

    • Dean on

      Hello Rado,
      Can I suggest you research
      Healthier water and I’ve found it to be a better price per liter.
      RO systems are good however I’ve found the Espring even better.
      Regards Dean

  4. Ed Theleman on

    Is the water from a nuvo water system, it uses ascorbic acid -Vit C, to keep scale calcium and magnesium from attaching to pipes -healthy for our bodies?
    Dr Axe – many thanks for all your wonderful infomation on health – God bless you

  5. Trisha Basu on

    I am using Livpure ro water purifier for last 3 years and I have not faced any of the mentioned issues. It depends on the brand and quality of the water purifier you use. I have installed the best water purifier in India for my family that not only cleans water but also kills and removes virus and bacteria present in water. It is available online @

    • Lana on

      Hi my name is Lana,
      Last week I was diagnostic with Shingles, (The reason for shingles is unclear. But it may be due to lowered immunity to infections as you grow older. Shingles is more common in older adults and in people who have weakened immune systems), and I’m only 35 years old. My immune system get to low all because I bought a home filter RO SYSTEM, reverse osmosis water doesn’t have enough minerals, when it is consumed, it also leaches minerals from the body. This means that minerals being consumed in food and vitamins are being urinated away. So, with immune systems low.
      Here’s a link about what happened to our health without minerals. Headache, depression, hair loss, muscular symptoms like aches, pains, twitching, spasms and cramps, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, osteoporosis…

  6. Joy on

    I use an RO system at my home for purifying water. The only drawback with RO water purifier is wastage of water and maintenance cost. Given that I get safe drinking water, I don’t mind spending some money for its maintenance.

    Check out for the best water purifiers

  7. SCOTT on

    Hello my name is Scott and would like to know if you do have Reverse Osmosis system for sale and if you do kindly email me with the sizes and types that you have including with their prices range on them thank you .

    Thank you

  8. Mary on

    I purchase reverse osmosis water at my local health food store. I take my empty water jug and refill it from there RO machine costing me $2.50 Canadian funds. Is RO water Alkaline???

  9. Kedy on

    I live in India and a need of a RO is essential here. I use Kent Grand RO for last 3 years and this is the best water purifier i have ever used.
    A family must have an RO or other water purifier installed as per their water source quality. I am a fan of Dr. Axe and thanks for sharing this in-depth article with us.


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