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Birch water, also known as birch sap, comes from the trees of the Betula genus.

While only recently gaining popularity in the United States, birch water has been consumed for centuries in Northern Europe and China due to its potential health benefits (1).

It's also used in cosmetics and other skin care products.

This article tells you everything you need to know about birch water, including its benefits and downsides.

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Birch water is the sap of birch trees and harvested in early spring (2).

During the winter, birch trees store nutrients that are later released into their sap (2).

When tapped, birch water is a clear, colorless liquid with a slightly sweet taste. After 2–3 days, it begins to ferment, developing a more acidic flavor (3).

It's consumed on its own or made into other products, such as syrup, beer, wine, and mead (1).

Today, bottled birch water is available online and in stores. Keep in mind that commercial birch products frequently harbor added sugars and flavors.

summary

Birch water, also known as birch sap, is harvested in the early spring and has a clear color and slightly sweet flavor. Commercially made birch water may also contain added sugars and flavorings.

While research is limited, birch water may provide several health benefits.

Good source of many nutrients

Birch water offers numerous nutrients, especially vitamins and minerals. Historically, sailors would even drink it to ward off scurvy (1).

Many factors affect birch water's nutrient composition, including geography, soil type, and even the specific species and age of the tree. Still, it's generally low in calories and sugar while high in nutrients like magnesium and manganese (2, 3, 4).

One 10.2-ounce (300-ml) bottle contains (4):

  • Calories: 9
  • Carbs: 3 grams
  • Sugar: 3 grams
  • Calcium: 2% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Magnesium: 95% of the DV
  • Manganese: 130% of the DV
  • Zinc: 3% of the DV

Studies also reveal varying amounts of phosphorus, potassium, folic acid, vitamin C, and copper. Additionally, birch water provides small amounts of amino acids and large amounts of polyphenol antioxidants, which help fight oxidative stress in your body (2, 3).

Rich in manganese

Birch water packs a whopping 130% of the DV for manganese in just 10.2 ounces (300 ml) (4).

This essential mineral is vital for bone development and maintenance (5).

In fact, studies have shown that when combined with calcium, zinc, and copper — all of which are found in birch water — manganese may help reduce spinal bone loss in older women (6).

Additionally, manganese helps form an antioxidant called superoxide dismutase (SOD), which protects cells from oxidative damage and may reduce your risk of several chronic diseases (7, 8, 9).

What's more, this mineral aids your digestion of proteins, carbs, and cholesterol and may help manage blood sugar and prevent epileptic seizures (10, 11, 12).

May have antioxidant properties

While specific amounts vary, birch water is high in polyphenol antioxidants, which protect your cells against damage from unstable molecules called free radicals (2, 13).

Research suggests that polyphenols may safeguard against several conditions, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and even certain forms of cancer (14).

Additionally, one study in water from white birches identified betulin, a plant compound that your body turns into betulinic acid. While research is limited, this acid may have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer properties (15, 16, 17).

Birch water likewise contains vitamin C, which functions as a potent antioxidant (18).

May boost skin health

Birch water has become a popular ingredient in lotions and other cosmetics due to its hydrating and antioxidant properties (15).

One test-tube study found that replacing water with birch sap in a skin care product significantly increased the production of skin cells called keratinocytes, suggesting that the sap may help keep your skin healthy and rejuvenated (15).

These benefits may be partly due to birch water's vitamin C content, which has been shown to stimulate the production of collagen — a protein that helps keep your skin strong, elastic, and hydrated (19, 20).

Additionally, vitamin C protects your skin against harmful UV rays, which can cause wrinkles and other signs of aging (19).

Nonetheless, more research is needed on birch water's effects on skin health — both as a beverage and an ingredient in cosmetics.

May strengthen hair

Because it aids collagen production and iron absorption, the vitamin C in birch water may strengthen your hair.

Research demonstrates that both collagen and iron support hair growth and structure. Additionally, vitamin C protects against free radicals, which can damage hair cells and prevent hair growth (21, 22, 23).

Although folk remedies use birch water to treat hair loss, there’s currently no evidence to support this application.

As such, further studies are necessary.

A delicious way to hydrate

Birch water is lower in calories and sugar than similar drinks, such as maple or coconut water (24, 25).

While it's sometimes marketed as a good source of electrolytes due to its magnesium and potassium content, no research currently supports using it to hydrate after exercise.

That said, its unique taste and mineral content make birch water a good option for people looking for a flavorful alternative to water.

summary

Birch water is a slightly sweet, low-calorie, low-sugar beverage that's especially high in magnesium, manganese, and antioxidants. It may also boost skin and hair health, though more research is needed.

Birch water is generally considered safe when consumed in moderation.

That said, due to limited research, its potential side effects are not fully understood.

One study in people with birch-pollen allergies found that 39% of the participants tested positive to birch sap during a skin-scratch test (26).

Therefore, anyone allergic to birch pollen should be cautious when trying birch water.

Additionally, it's best to limit your intake, as birch water carries a risk of manganese toxicity. This can be especially dangerous for people with impaired liver function (27, 28).

The current tolerable upper limit (UL) for manganese is 9–11 mg per day for adults and 2–6 mg per day for children, varying with age (27).

Keep in mind that a single 10.2-ounce (300-ml) serving of birch water packs 3 mg of manganese, meaning that some children may also exceed the UL with just 1 drink. Adults should limit themselves to 3 servings or fewer per day.

summary

While birch water is generally considered safe, more research is needed on its potential side effects. Excessive intake could also pose a risk of manganese toxicity, especially in people with liver disease.

Birch water is derived from the sap of birch trees and offers numerous minerals and antioxidants.

It's particularly rich in manganese and magnesium while low in calories and sugar. It may even improve skin and hair health, though more research is needed.

You can buy commercial birch water in stores or online, but keep in mind that some brands may add sugar and artificial flavors. As such, it's best to carefully read the product label.