Since the human body is 60% water, water is one of our key nutrients. That’s why it’s so important to replenish fluids and to stay hydrated to keep your body functioning properly. Read on for the reason behind why your water supply should be topped up and more tips on how to stay hydrated.
The water present in beverages and foods travels to every part of your body to perform important tasks. Here are examples of how water works in the body.
Dehydration can result if you do not have an adequate fluid supply. Dehydration is defined as a greater than 5% drop in water levels in the body, but losing even 2% of body water can affect performance. Fortunately, your body usually signals you when you’re coming up short. Learn to pay attention to these signals and stay hydrated—especially during vigorous physical activities, extreme high temperatures and illness.
Dehydration can affect people of all ages. It is caused by losing too much fluid (e.g., sweating, vomiting or diarrhea), not getting enough water from foods and beverages or a combination of the two. While mild dehydration can usually be resolved by drinking fluids, moderate and severe dehydration are serious health conditions that require immediate emergency treatment by a physician. If you have questions or concerns about dehydration, ask a healthcare professional for advice.
Fluid needs vary from person to person, depending on factors such as gender, age, physical activity levels and environmental conditions. However, experts have established adequate intake levels for people of different ages. (See chart below.)
While these recommended amounts may seem like a lot, keep in mind that drinking water, other beverages and foods count toward the total. For most people who are not engaged in strenuous and/or prolonged physical activity, drinking when thirsty and eating a balanced diet that includes recommended amounts of vegetables and fruit is a good plan for staying hydrated.
Active children often ignore thirst cues when they are busy playing or participating in sports. They also sweat less and do not tolerate extreme temperatures as well as adults. Encourage them to drink about ½ cup of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes during participation in vigorous physical activities. Older adults are also advised to pay attention to getting enough water because thirst indicators become less reliable with age.
Choosing nutritious beverages, such as fat free milk, 100% vegetable and fruit juices, broth-based soups, as well as water-rich vegetables and fruits, in addition to drinking water, can help with daily fluid intake. For athletes and very physically active people, experts recommend drinking 1 cup of fluid 10-15 minutes before and at 10-15 minute intervals during exercise—whether thirsty or not. Replacing water lost through sweat helps regulate body temperature, which is one key for a safe workout.
|Children||1-3 years||5-1/2 cups|
|Children||4-8 years||7 cups|
|Girls||9-13 years||9 cups|
|Boys||9-13 years||10 cups|
|Girls||14-18 years||10 cups|
|Boys||14-18 years||14 cups|
|Women||19+ years||11-1/2 cups|
|Men||19+ years||15-1/2 cups|
|*Includes drinking water, other beverages and water in foods|
Here are some tips on how to stay hydrated: