This will be a two-part blog because, after sitting down to write about the importance of water, I realized that there were far too many elements of the discussion to be included in one blog.
Water - Part One on 2/28/2017 includes:
Nutritional Importance of Water, Functions Within the Body, Maintaining Water Balance, Water Intake and Output, Meeting Your Needs, and resources for how to adequately keep your body hydrated.
Water – Part Two on 3/6/2017 will include:
Water Quality, Water Additives, Types of Water, and resources for how to best serve your body.
Nutritional Importance of Water
Water is one of the six nutrients, along with carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, lipids (fats), and proteins. It also happens to be one of the most abundant elements found in the human body, about 60% of our total body weight. Water is one essential nutrient we can only last a few days without because of how much the body needs and is unable to make for itself.
Every single cell in our body contains what is known as intracellular and extracellular fluid. These fluids have many components and are vital for maintaining virtually every bodily function, organ, and proper balance. One of the components of these fluids is water, and the body fiercely monitors, protects, and maintains the proper balance of this fluid because, if not properly maintained, the results can be catastrophic.
Take a moment to think about how quickly an emergency medical situation can occur when the body becomes dehydrated. That’s because most people are unaware of the many capacities in which water serves the human body.
Functions of Water
Water’s Role Within the Human Body:
- Provides fluid for numerous cellular reactions
- Participates in digestion and absorption of ingested materials
- Transports nutrients throughout the body
- Transports waste out of the body via bowl movements, sweating, and urination
- Provides structure to larger molecules such as proteins and glycogen
- Is a component of many chemical reactions within many organs and throughout the body
- Is an important fluid involved with all of the other nutrients and smaller molecules in the body
- Provides lubrication /padding for the joints, eyes, spinal cord, and the fetus during pregnancy
- Helps regulate the body’s temperature and organ functions such as the kidneys
- Upholds the volume of blood in the body
- Participates in hormone regulation
Maintaining Water Balance Within the Body
Unfortunately, it is often forgotten that water is an essential nutrient because the body cannot store it or create it, therefore it must be consumed. To allow the the body to replace its normal daily water losses, it is crucial for us to consume enough fluids for daily hydration.
The total percentage of body weight comprised of water changes as we age and is dependent upon how much metabolically active tissue, known as lean body mass or muscle mass, the body currently has. This is because metabolically active tissue has a higher percentage of water, which means that as the amount of adiposity (fat) tissue in the human body increases, the percentage of total body weight, that is made up of water, decreases (see below).
Total body weight water percentages
- Newborn - Approximately 75% - 85%
- One year old – Approximately 60% water
- Adult - Lean (healthy body weight), 60% -70% water
- Adult – Non-lean and/or obesity, 45% -55% water
- Athlete – Higher percent than lean adult but is dependent on age and percent of muscle mass
The Balancing Act
Maintaining optimal water balance within the body is dependent upon the difference between intake and output (loss). The balance is maintained by the following:
Water Intake Sources
- Fluids via oral or intravenous intake
- Metabolism of food (see table below for examples of how much water some foods contain)
Water Output Sources
- Sweating (perspiration)
- Skin and Respiratory tract (a.k.a. insensible water loss)
- Illness and some medications
- Having a fever – increases output
- Having diarrhea or vomiting – increases output
- Exercise – increased physical activity will increase output
- Hot weather or living in a hot climate can/will increase output amounts
Is too much water a problem?
Although extremely rare, water Intoxication is what happens when the body is provided excessive amounts of water/fluid and is unable to remove it through normal elimination processes such as urination, waste, etc. It can happen with certain medical conditions and sometimes extreme athletes may over hydrate after an event but in both of these cases, the individuals should have specific recommendations to follow.
Meeting Your Fluid Needs
Is eight – 8 ounce glasses, or 64 ounces of water, a day really the magic number for adults?Although individual daily water recommendations vary, adults are often reminded to drink this amount of water daily. This recommendation is not based on scientific evidence but usually runs close to what adults need, so it is often used as an easy reminder.
The table below gives an approximate idea of how much water we need each day, The recommended Total Water daily amounts include drinking water and fluids found in all food and beverages consumed.
As previously discussed, our needs are influenced by how much we’re moving around, how old we are, what our body is medically dealing with, and many other situations.
Below is a quick way to convert the table recommendations into useable amounts:
- 1 liter = 33.8 fluid ounces
- 1 fluid cup = 8 ounces
Example: What are the total daily water needs for a 30-year-old non-pregnant, non-lactating female?
Recommendation From Table:
- 2.7 liters x 33.8 fluid ounces = 91.0 ounces (rounded)
- 91.0 ounces divided by 8 fluid ounces = 11 cups (rounded)
Answer: Approximately eleven 8-ounce fluid cups of total fluids from all water, beverages, and foods.
Basic Indications that we need more fluid
Feeling thirsty and experiencing dark colored urine are indicators that you might not be consuming enough water or fluids.
Thanks for stopping by
Below some Additional resources and I hope you check back next week for Water - Part Two
AND (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) Water, How Much do Kids Need? http://www.eatright.org/resource/fitness/sports-and-performance/hydrate-right/water-go-with-the-flow
Great write-up from KidsHealth for kids to learn about the importance of water: http://kidshealth.org/en/kids/water.html
Prevention Magazine. 7 Nutritionist-Approved Hacks to Drink More Water Every Day http://www.prevention.com/food/hacks-to-drink-more-water