Ashland's Lithia Water makes no boasts about healthfulness

How healthful is the water from the Lithia fountain? I mean, what are the minerals and how much of each? And how much is too much of it to drink?

— Charles, via email

That's a dreaded two-parter, Charles, but we'll bite ... er, hold our nose and sip.

To get you Lithia Water's specific mineral content, we reached out to Steve Walker, the water quality and distribution supervisor for the city of Ashland. He explained that while trace amounts of many elements are present in the water, the primary minerals that give Lithia Water its characteristics are as follows, (measurements in parts per million):

Chloride — 1,840 ppm

Sodium — 1,750 ppm

Calcium — 271 ppm

Boron — 85.8 ppm

Lithium — 9.9 ppm

As for how much is too much, well, that can be a little trickier. Walker sent us the following statement: "The Lithia Fountain is a historic novelty that serves as reminder of Ashland's past. The city of Ashland makes no claims as to the health benefits of Lithia Water or any recommendations as to how much you should drink."

Although lithium is still used in modern medicine as a mood stabilizer, a clinical dose is much, much higher than what's present in Ashland's famed water.

An Oct. 3, 2008, Ashland Daily Tidings story examining the water's health benefits noted that a standard dose of lithium is 1,200 milligrams per day, according to Ashland psychiatrist Dr. Mark Bradshaw. In contrast, Lithia Water at that time was tested to have 6.71 milligrams per liter.

"A person would have to drink about 150 liters to get to that dose. It would take a whole lot of water, and I think people would probably get water toxicity first," Bradshaw said in the article.

Water intoxication is a rare condition that occurs when the body's electrolytes are flushed out of the system due to an extreme overconsumption of water. So if you can get past large quantities of that sulfur taste, try to show the same level of moderation you give to regular 'ol drinking water.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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