What's wrong with tap water?

In fact, not much. Not at least in the UK — where 99.6 per cent of tap water is deemed to meet the stringent standards set by the Drinking Water Inspectorate.

Tap water costs a tiny fraction of the price of bottled mineral water. Its main disadvantage is that it has been disinfected with chlorine, and in some parts of the UK this treatment is all too evident in both its smell and taste. Chlorine, however, can be removed by using a charcoal filter.

In some areas, fluoride has also been added to tap water, in a controversial strategy to improve dental care; this cannot be removed by most ordinary filters.

But mineral water is better for you, isn't it?

Well, it depends who you ask. Some people swear that their chosen brand of mineral water gives them all kinds of health benefits. But many scientists, nutritionists and medical researchers are less than convinced.

The British Heart Foundation puts it like this: 'Our body's mineral requirements are easily met by the food we eat. The water we drink has little impact.' And the World Health Organization has concluded: 'Although certain mineral waters may be useful in providing essential micro-nutrients, such as calcium, WHO is unaware of any convincing evidence to support the beneficial effects of consuming such mineral waters.'

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