By Greg Reyneke, CSW-VI
A smart dealer wanting to learn about aquaceuticals needs to quickly develop a broad understanding of the key concepts in this fascinating and rapidly growing segment of the water quality improvement industry. Our customers turn to aquaceuticals because they believe in the value of liquid nutrition. Solid pills and powder-filled capsules are generally less effectively absorbed through the human gastro-intestinal (GI) tract than liquid formulations. Aquaceuticals generally come in two varieties: premixed and self-mix. Intelligent customers inevitably gravitate towards the self-mix, since it costs less and they can use their own purified water to mix the supplement into a usable form instead. Aquaceutical concentrates will mix best with purified water since there are no contaminants like metals, minerals, or disinfectants and their byproducts to interfere with the mixing process. Clean, purified water is the building block upon which all good aquaceutical formulations are built.
Metals and minerals
Trace minerals serve as catalysts to vitamin uptake within the cells of the human body. They are essential to our daily health, and have specific minimum daily requirements depending on our body size and level of stress. Unfortunately, this requirement usually goes unmet when living the hectic modern lifestyle. The following are just a few of the trace minerals that should be included in a healthful daily diet, and can be obtained through organic foods and nutritional supplements like aquaceuticals.
Boron is a trace mineral that provides metabolic benefits in the human body. Though its exact role in the body is relatively unknown, recent experimental studies indicate that boron may be essential for energy utilization and the creation and preservation of bone.
Iodine is an important trace mineral, though it is often misunderstood. A deficiency of iodine results in goiters, lower vitality, lower metabolism and the inability to think logically. Iodine is essential for proper thyroid function.
Lithium is a trace mineral that interacts only with sodium. It can be obtained from drinking water and is essential to balancing the part of the brain that dictates behavioral and emotional behaviors.
Magnesium is an abundant element in the body and it is closely related to calcium and phosphorus as far as functions go. About 70 percent of all magnesium is contained in the bones and teeth and the rest is found in the cells of the soft tissue of the body.
Manganese is a natural muscle builder, and it is also known to strengthen bones and ligaments. It is usually found in the bone, liver, kidneys, heart, pituitary gland, pancreas, spleen and intestines.
Molybdenum is an essential trace mineral that is found concentrated in the liver, adrenal glands, kidneys, bones and skin. Most people obtain molybdenum from milk and other dairy products, dried legumes, organ meats and whole grains.
Phosphorus is a vital essential mineral because it provides a wide range of functions throughout the body. It is not only involved in bone and teeth formation, but also the metabolism of every cell in the human body.
Selenium is a trace mineral that helps to prevent oxygen damage to the cell membrane. Cell membranes are critical for the proper absorption of nutrients and the elimination of toxic wastes. It’s also known to be a powerful antioxidant.
Silicon is a trace mineral that is found in the hair and skin. It is important in the formation of the collagen found in bone, cartilage and other connective tissues. It is also necessary for the formation of other connective tissues like elastin, which help maintain the integrity of the elastic quality of blood vessels – an important feature of blood pressure control – and other tissues.
Sodium is a major component of positively charged ions found in cellular tissue. An adequate amount of sodium is important to the overall function of the human body.
Organics, inorganics and chelation
It is critical to grasp the difference between organic and inorganic metal and mineral compounds. Being mammalian organisms, we require specialized types of nutrients and other co-factors to survive and thrive. For example, our bodies require iron to live; we can get iron from nails or from liver…which one is better for your body? Inorganic minerals are not readily metabolized by humans; we require them to be preprocessed by another organism, making them biogenic. When we consume inorganic minerals, our body attempts to convert them to a biogenic compound through a process known as chelation. This chelation process is often disturbed or incomplete, meaning the minerals will exit your body without ever being absorbed and put to good use. Biomolecules can be produced through plants and animals, as well synthetically, by reacting minerals with ligands such as glycine. The food chain exists for a very important reason; vendors selling ground up dirt are not helping their customers’ health.
Acidity, alkalinity and pH
pH describes the acidity or basicity of an aqueous solution along a logarithmic scale from 0 to 14. ‘Pure’ water has a neutral pH, close to 7.0 at 77 °F (25 °C). Solutions with a pH less than 7 are described as acidic and solutions with a pH greater than 7 are basic or alkaline. Since alkalinity is the sum of the bicarbonate (HCO3-), carbonate (CO3-2) and hydroxide (OH-) buffers, it measures the ability of a solution to neutralize acids. Evidently pH and alkalinity are not the same thing at all. Most of the medical literature indicates that human bodies function well with the appropriate reserves of alkalinity to buffer acidic byproducts of metabolism. Healthy blood is slightly alkaline, and some studies suggest that acidity in the human body can be correlated to a broad spectrum of health maladies. Many enterprising individuals sell ionizing machines and supplements that raise pH, playing in a lack of consumer education. Purchasing an ionizing machine or supplement that only raises pH and not total alkalinity is like trying to cool a room with an ice-cube. At the 2012 WQA Aquatech Convention in Las Vegas, NV, Robert Slovak presented an excellent lecture on the differences between pH and alkalinity specifically as pertaining to human health and nutrition. You’d be wise to review the presentation notes to further assist in your understanding of this subject.
Antioxidants, oxidants and ORP
Experienced water quality improvement professionals will be familiar with ORP. We use ORP measurements (oxidation reduction potential) as an indicator of the effectiveness of oxidizing disinfectants in water, like chlorine and bromine. A positive ORP voltage indicates oxidizing potential, with higher numbers indicating greater disinfection capacity. The alternative health industry has begun promoting the value of ‘negative ORP’ in describing solutions that are anti-oxidants. Negative ORP water has been attributed with numerous health benefits such as increasing cellular hydration, raising physical and mental energy levels, contributing to mitochondrial ATP production, neutralizing free radicals, restoring beneficial intestinal flora, and even curing certain cancers.
Vitamins and electrolytes
An electrolyte is any substance containing free ions to make the substance electrically conductive. Electrolytes are generally solutions of acids, bases or salts. The human body requires specific electrolytes to function properly, especially during periods of exertion or stress. Sodium and potassium salts are the most common forms of electrolytes supplied in aquaceutical concentrates. Vitamins are organic compounds required as vital nutrients in tiny amounts that cannot be synthesized in our bodies and must be supplied from an external source. Vitamins perform a number of biochemical functions. Some vitamins regulate mineral metabolism and others regulate growth and differentiation of cells and tissue. Others function as antioxidants like vitamin E and vitamin C. Most vitamins function as precursors for enzyme cofactors that help enzymes in their work as catalysts in metabolism. Aquaceutical concentrates will generally include vitamins that are not lipid-bound. It is important that a vitamin formulation be manufactured in a way that the ingredients are biochemically balanced and that interfering factors are minimized.
Liquids, powders and effervescence
Aquaceutical concentrates come in a number of forms, with liquids generally being the least shelf-stable. Most manufacturers elect to supply powders and compressed effervescent tablets that quickly dissolve in purified water. Aquaceutical concentrates should always be stored in a temperature-controlled environment to maximize longevity and potency.
It is clear that there are a myriad of aquaceutical options available for the progressive water dealer. There is also a lot of good and bad information out there. It is easy to get confused and discouraged without proper guidance. Research carefully, find good vendors that you can trust, and make sure you understand what you’re selling.
- Boron, Walter, F.; Boulpaep, E.L. (2004). Medical Physiology: A Cellular And Molecular Approach. Elsevier/Saunders. ISBN 1-4160-2328-3.
- Cotton, Frank Albert; Geoffrey Wilkinson, Carlos A. Murillo (1999). Advanced Inorganic Chemistry. ISBN 0471199575, 9780471199571
- Garrels, R.M.; Christ, C.L. (1990). Minerals, Solutions, and Equilibria. London: Jones and Bartlett.
- Hartwig, J. F. Organotransition Metal Chemistry, from Bonding to Catalysis; University Science Books: New York, 2010. ISBN 189138953X
- Medical Encyclopedia: Metabolic Acidosis: Causes and symptoms. Nlm.nih.gov. 2011-06-22. Retrieved 2011-07-25.
- Glycine (abbreviated as Gly or G) is an organic compound with the formula NH2CH2COOH.
- A ligand is an ion or molecule that binds to a central metal atom to form a coordination complex.
- ORP (Also known as reduction potential, redox potential,) is a measure of the activity or strength of oxidizers and reducers in relation to their concentration. Oxidizers accept electrons; reducers lose electrons. Like acidity and alkalinity, the increase of one is at the expense of the other. ORP is measured in volts (V), or millivolts (mV).
- Interfering factors are chemicals that will cause a vitamin, mineral or other nutrient to be less effectively absorbed or utilized by the body.
About the author
Greg Reyneke, CWS-VI, is currently General Manager at Intermountain Soft Water in Lindon, UT and serves on the WC&P Technical Review Committee. He also serves on the advisory board of the Smart Dealer Network, a trade association dedicated to helping independent water treatment dealers succeed in today’s changing world and reach their full potential.