Florida's Radioactive Fountain of Youth May Prolong Life
Five hundred years after Ponce de Leon explored the area, locals swear by an artesian well with unusual properties.
July 23, 2013
But radium isn't the only thing that turns up in the water. In fact, a much more humdrum ingredient might hold the secret of its appeal. The water from the aquifer is high in magnesium, the second most common mineral in the body after calcium.
More than 80 percent of Americans are deficient in magnesium, which helps the body regulate heart muscles and control high blood pressure. The World Health Organization recommends that drinking water contain at least 25 milligrams of magnesium per liter, and a U.S. Academy of Science study from 1977 found that 150,000 deaths a year in the United States could be prevented with additional magnesium in water.
According to Carolyn Dean, author of The Magnesium Miracle, the fountain's 46 ppm of magnesium puts it on par with other mineral waters like San Pellegrino.
The compound magnesium sulfate also makes an appearance in the water. It's better known as Epsom salt, which has been used in baths to ease aches and pains for years.
Magnesium is regularly removed from many bottled waters by a process known as reverse osmosis. And the fluoride added to many public water supplies counteracts magnesium, too.
Magnesium is especially good for older people: Magnesium deficiency increases with age as the body stops being as efficient in absorption, and many drugs senior citizens take interfere with the body's ability to digest magnesium.
"Water Bill" Harper has noticed that the fountain is especially popular among Punta Gorda's older folk.
"One of the problems with city water is we have to maintain a chloride disinfection. It makes everything taste funny," he said. "The people have learned they can go down and take that water, which is not chlorinated, and let it sit in the refrigerator.
"It's tasty; it has no reaction with any of their medication. Also, [magnesium sulfate] keeps you regular."...