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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

7/23/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

What's the secret behind this restorative fountain?

A radioactive fountain in Florida could prove to be a literal fountain of youth, recognized centuries after the infamous explorer Juan Ponce de Leon trekked Florida and the South seeking the fabled spring.

The fountain of youth could probably use some rejuvenating itself.

The fountain of youth could probably use some rejuvenating itself.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/23/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: fountain of youth, radioactive, water, magnesium, radium-226


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Just five hundred years ago, Juan Ponce de Leon traversed Florida and the American South in search of riches. Among the objects of his desire was a legendary fountain of youth. The spring, it was said, could restore youth in those who drank of it.

Now, National Geographic is featuring the story of a curious fountain in a small Florida town which locals insist is the closest thing to such a spring. The artesian well sits next to an intersection and has been the focus of local lore for over a century.

In the town of Punta Gorda, on Charlotte Harbor, a small green-tiled fountain with a spigot offers water to thirsty passersby. Of course, the water smalls of rotten eggs because of the sulfates it contains and it also tests well above safety limits for radiation.

That's right, the fountain of youth is radioactive.

Locals have known about the radioactivity since 1983, when the water was tested and exceeded safe limits. The water is contaminated with 9.2 picoCuries of radium-226 isotope per liter. This exceeds the safe maximum of 5 picoCuries.

However, water officials explain that even the "safe maximum" is well within safe limits, so there's still no significant risk of developing cancer from the water.

Despite the findings, locals have touted the spring's rejuvenating properties for over a century. As far back as 1894, locals recognized the fountain's apparent restorative abilities, and since then some have drank the water daily, despite its taste. At one time, a public pool was even filled by it.

The fountain isn't a perfect secret. Tourists also bring empty plastic bottles to fill at the spigot, in the hopes the radioactive, rotten-egg water will address their ailments and perhaps keep them young.

Of course, there's nothing magical about the fountain, nor are the locals lying. Further tests on the water suggest it can prolong life for another reason.

That reason is magnesium. One of the elements that "contaminates" the water is magnesium, which also happens to be the second-most abundant element in the human body. True to our processed-food lifestyle, we don't get enough magnesium in our diet.

Magnesium has been cited for its ability to control blood pressure, to reduce heart attacks, and to keep you regular. As a bonus, it doesn't react adversely with medications either.

This makes it ideal for older people, the same folks who swear by the fountain's properties. Area seniors simply bottle the water, refrigerate it, which neutralizes the poor taste, and drink it daily.

Many local water supplies have fluoride added, which counteracts magnesium. Bottled waters also remove magnesium through reverse osmosis.

Some locals even claim to enjoy the taste of the water. They recount younger days when they stood in line for their chance to fill a bottle or a cup with the restorative liquid.

According to the science, any of us can enjoy these benefits without radiation or the rotten-egg smell. We have only to add magnesium to our daily intake, and skip fluoridated water supplies. Of course, it's nto a true fountain of youth that will make you younger, but it may prolong your life, and that's good enough for many residents of Punta Gorda.

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