Is Water Organic? A Doctor Answers

Is Water Organic? A Doctor Answers


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Many consumers prefer organic products, and recently there have been more organic bottled water brands hitting the US market.

But is "organic water" even possible? What does the organic certification mean? Are bottled water products labeled organic healthier than tap water? And is water quality an issue in the US?

In this article we'll answer all of these questions and more, as we review what the USDA organic certification means.

We'll explain whether or not water can be "organic," what it means when a bottled water brand has an organic certification, and share our thoughts on whether water labeled organic is healthier.

We'll also feature a video that documents how poor water quality is in some parts of the US.

What Does the Organic Certification Mean?

USDA Organic logo

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) certifies food products that meet a set of quality standards with the above green-and-white seal.

Specifically, organic foods and food byproducts cannot be grown using genetically modified organisms (GMOs), cannot contain artificial preservatives or flavors and must follow certain guidelines for pesticide use and animal health.

There is some medical research suggesting that eating a diet composed of organic foods is healthier than a diet of non-organic foods.

The above-linked study suggests that slightly reduced pesticide exposure along with increased nutrition from plants are two ways that an organic diet may lead to superior health outcomes, but the research is still early-stage.

Can Water Be Organic?

Many consumers are confused when they encounter bottled water products with an organic seal.

This confusion is understandable, since water isn’t grown or farmed like produce, and since the majority of bottled water brands do not have an organic seal.

The reason that some bottled water brands are certified organic and some aren't is actually due to the additive ingredients.

If a water brand adds other certified organic ingredients to their formulation, the brand can use the organic seal on their product label.

One popular brand that uses this strategy is Lemon Water. The brand's bottled water contains a small amount (5% by concentration) of organic lemon juice, so the bottle bears the USDA organic seal.

We haven't come across any proof that the water quality in organic-labeled bottled water is superior to the water quality in bottled water without the organic label.

The important takeaway here is that it's impossible for water itself to be organic or conventional  water is just two hydrogen (H) atoms and one oxygen (O) atom.

Only the added ingredients can allow for USDA certification.

Are Organic Bottled Water Brands Healthier?

We do not consider organic bottled water brands like Lemon Water to be any healthier than tap water or bottled water brands without the organic seal.

The most important factor when considering the healthiness of water is its purity or lack of contaminants like heavy metals and microplastics.

There is some preliminary research suggesting that alkaline water may be healthier than tap water, as alkaline water has been shown in some studies to be associated with reduced inflammation and better sleep.

However, the research is too early-stage to conclusively state that alkaline water is healthier in our opinion.

Bottled water packaged in single-use plastic exposes consumers to the risk of estrogenic plasticizing chemicals, even if the brand claims to be BPA free (which is an essentially meaningless designation from a health perspective, as we explain in the above-linked article).

We consider filtered tap water to be the most environmentally-friendly and healthy water option, because only by filtering water can you ensure a reduction in contaminants.

Why is Water Filtration So Important?

For consumers who are curious about why water filtration is so important, and why we consider filtered water to be much healthier than "organic" water, check out the video below documenting the lead pipe crisis in the US.

Keep in mind that when purchasing water with an organic certification, it's usually uncommon for its lead levels to be published:

Our Clean Water Picks

Brita Water Filter is our top countertop water filter pick, because it's been shown in studies conducted by ConsumerLab (an independent research firm) to significantly reduce heavy metal levels and entirely eliminate microplastics.

Pique Daily Radiance is our top flavor enhancing packet that can be added to water.

These packets are naturally flavored with nutritious ingredients like organic elderberry juice concentrate (which is clinically shown to support the immune system) and organic lemon juice concentrate.

Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

Some bottled water is labeled organic, but that doesn’t indicate that the water quality in those products is superior to the water quality in standard tap or non-organic bottled water.

The organic seal on a water bottle just means that the product contains added ingredients which are certified organic, like lemon juice.

We don’t currently recommend any organic water products, as they tend to be overpriced and we can't locate any clinical trials suggesting organic-certified water is healthier than regular water.

Our recommendation to consumers seeking to optimize health by improving the quality of their drinking water is to invest in a water filter and filter tap water right at home.

This solution is also much better for the environment as it reduces single-use plastic waste, which is a significant global issue.