Deep Mineral Water Maximizes Recovery After Dehydrating Exercise: Significant Effects Within the First 4h, Measurable Effects Even 24h Post - Mechanism Not Clear

Thirsty? Drink mineral water and recover faster!
If you have seen the FIFA World Cup quarter finals, France vs. Germany, you will be aware that the Germans could use a supplement that speeds up regeneration after dehydrating physical activity in the heat. Interestingly enough, a "supplement" like that has been identified only recently by Loreta Stasiule and her colleagues from the Lithuanian Sports University (Stasiule. 2014).

In the corresponding paper, which has been published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition roughly a week ago, the researchers report the results of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover human study to evaluate the effect of ingestion of natural mineral water extracted from a depth of 689 m on recovery from prolonged fatiguing aerobic running conducted at 30°C.
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"689 m?" - if that's what you're thinking right now, just forget this hilarious detail and think of it as mineral water - I seriously doubt that the exact depth is relevant by any means. What really counts, is the mineral composition of the mineral and regular waters the subjects consumed after running on a motorized treadmill at 40% of their VO2max at a room temperature  of 30°C until a 3% decline in body mass was observed. The total amount of water the subjects had to consume was standardized and amounted to 1.5 times their body mass loss.
Table 1: Concentrations of the minerals and trace elements in drinks used inthe study (Stasiule. 2014)
The water supplements were evenly divided into five equal parts and were ingested at 30 min intervals. To compare their effects, measures of physical performance (aerobic power and lower-body muscle power) and blood CK activity were assessed at 4, 24, and 48 h during the recovery period. To control for possible confounding effects of individual variation, a randomized, double-blind crossover design was used with trials spaced 7 days apart.
Figure 1: VO2max and VO2Max Pulse changes (%) during the post-exercise period (Stasiule. 2014).
If you take a look at the outcome of these trials (Figure 1), its hard to deny that the effects are significant, but irrelevant for the German national soccer team. The next match, the semi finals, is on Tuesday, next week and that's way beyond those 48h where the advantage of mineral over regular water vanishes. The same is true for the accelerated recovery of muscle strength (not shown in Figure 1), which would be particularly useful in dead-ball situations ;-)
You can also use whey while rehydrating: A recent study in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Amino Acids shows that the provision of extra protein "neither enhances nor inhibits post-exercise rehy- dration, when a volume equivalent to 150 % of sweat losses is ingested in 1 h" (James. 2014). In other words: You don't have to drink only mineral water, you can add some whey protein on top of it - and if you're supersmart, you use mineral water to prepare that shake.
Bottom line: Ok, deep mineral water works but why is that the case? Honestly, I don't have a definite answer. One possible explanation the authors have to offer is "that stroke volume recovered better in the DMW trial and that this led to a faster and better recovery of VO2max." As they point out, the expansion of the plasma volume is a well-recognized early response to endurance training and is observed even as an acute response to a single bout of intense exercise. The onset of the phenomenon is extremely rapid and the consequent hypervolemia can improve performance by inducing better muscle perfusion and by increasing stroke volume and maximal cardiac output.

In view of the beneficial effects of the sulfur amino acid taurine, the sulfur and, via a totally different mechanism, the total electrolyte and trace mineral content could and certainly do figure as well. In fact, the latter, i.e. the high comparatively high amount of electrolytes may eventually facilitate the aforementioned maintenance / recovery of an optimal plasma volume and the observed improvements in muscle power recovery which depend on optimal electrolyte levels as well.
  • James, Lewis J., et al. "Effect of whey protein isolate on rehydration after exercise." Amino acids 46.5 (2014): 1217-1224. 
  • Stasiule, Loreta, et al. "Deep mineral water accelerates recovery after dehydrating aerobic exercise: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study." Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 11.1 (2014): 34.
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