The digestive system is like a well-oiled machine, breaking down what you consume, filtering out the waste, dispersing the nutrients and flushing out what your body does not need. Part of the work your digestive system does is send the vitamins and minerals out into the blood stream so they can go where they are needed. While vitamins and minerals are critical for your health, you can get too much of a good thing. In healthy individuals, the kidneys will generally filter out excess amounts. When someone with kidney problems is consuming hard water, there is a chance they will get too much calcium and magnesium. Learning more about these is important, especially if you are frequently exposed to hard water and you have kidney problems.
The Effects of Hypercalcemia
There are two primary minerals that are responsible for making water hard and the first is calcium. Calcium is critical for a variety of body processes, but there is a such thing as too much of this important mineral. When calcium levels are above what is considered healthy, it is diagnosed as hypercalcemia. When calcium is in the body at the right levels, it helps the body with blood clotting, muscle contraction, cell metabolism, bone health, nerve impulse transmission and cell membrane stability.
Getting adequate calcium each day is critical for general health. Men and women 19 to 50 years old should get about 1,000 milligrams daily. This amount remains the same for men ages 51 to 70, but women in this age group have to increase their intake to 1,200 milligrams daily. All people over age 71 have a recommended intake of 1,200 milligrams daily.
The kidneys work to get excess calcium out of the body, so most healthy individuals will not experience an issue with high calcium levels. However, if the kidneys are not functioning properly, calcium can build up and cause a wide range of health issues:
- Excessive urination and thirst
- Flank pain
- Muscle weakness and twitching
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Reduced appetite
- Bone pain
- Reduced structural integrity of the bones
The Impact of Hypermagnesemia
The second mineral that makes water hard is magnesium. Your body relies on magnesium for a number of functions, but getting too much magnesium can result in a condition called hypermagnesemia. Some body functions that need magnesium include protein synthesis, blood pressure regulation, energy production, blood sugar control, healthy bone formation, overall heart health and nerve function.
The average adult between ages 19 and 30 should get approximately 400 milligrams (men) and 310 milligrams (women) per day of magnesium. Ages 31 and up for men, the amount is 420 milligrams per day and for this age group for women, the amount is 320 milligrams per day.
The kidneys work to get excess magnesium out of the body, so most healthy individuals will not experience an issue with high magnesium levels. However, if the kidneys are not functioning properly, magnesium can build up and this can cause an array of health complications.
A person is said to have too much magnesium when they have a serum magnesium concentration that is greater than 2.6 mg/dL. The risk of this happening as a result of high magnesium levels in drinking water is not common. However, those with any condition that impacts the body’s ability to remove excess magnesium, such as kidney failure, are at risk. Symptoms of too much magnesium might include:
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Muscle weakness
- Urine retention
- Respiratory distress or cardiac arrest
- Low blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
Dehydration and Its Effects
Getting too much calcium and magnesium can result in diarrhea and vomiting which might contribute to dehydration. In the most severe cases, dehydration can be fatal. In an adult, those who experience significant dehydration might experience:
- Extreme thirst
- Dark-colored urine
- Reduced urination
Since children also consume the water in your home, you might want to know how dehydration might affect them. Babies in particular are unable to communicate what is wrong, so you have to look for certain signs, such as not having a wet diaper for at least three hours and when they are crying, there are no tears. Their tongue and mouth can become dry and you might notice their eyes and cheeks have a sunken appearance. They might also be especially irritable and listless.
Do You Have Hard Water in Your Home?
You can see that hard water could have a profound impact on your health. In addition to the information above, it could also aggravate your skin, negatively impact your clothes, decrease the life of certain appliances and make your plumbing work harder. Since it can cause harm in so many ways, it is important to know the state of your water. It is recommended that you have a professional come to test your water. They can give you the exact information you need to have your water properly treated.
Exploring the Benefits of Treating Hard Water
Treating your hard water means a considerably lesser amount of calcium and magnesium in your water. It will also remove a number of other potentially harmful contaminants from your water to better protect your overall health. Many people notice that alleviating their hard water helps to improve their skin, hair and nail health, makes their food taste better and provides better tasting drinking water.
The good news is that it is not difficult to treat the water in your home so that you can enjoy water that is cleaner, healthier and more refreshing. There are a number of different methods that you might explore for softer water. However, it is generally recommended that you use a combination of techniques to promote softer water. Such techniques include a whole home water filter, a water softener and a reverse osmosis system.
You now know more about hard water and how it might affect your health should you get too much calcium or magnesium. Thankfully, there are ways to soften your water, so that you do not have to contend with these effects. If your symptoms are especially troublesome, in addition to softening your water, you might also consider consulting your doctor since this was not written by a physician.