All About Nutrition

Water and Body Hydration
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Why is water necessary?

water, H2OWater is vitally essential for good health and proper hydration of all the cells and tissues in the body.

An adult's body weight is made up of between 50%-65% of water - thats a lot of water! Water exists in the cells, between the cells and within various organs and tissues.

Water is necessary for the following:

Water is necessary to hydrate the body cells, so that they can move properly and in various tissues such as blood, to allow it to flow effectively

Water needs to be in a particular balance in the body for good health - not in excess and not in deficit.


How much water is required?

Water is one of the macronutrient, as it is required in relatively large amounts to maintain good health (the other macronutrients are carbohydrates, protein and fats).

In general, adults are recommended to drink at least 8 glasses of water each day - more is required if exercise is performed, or if the weather is very hot.


Water intake recommendation

The dietary reference intake (DRI) of water set by the DRI committee is:

The water intake for an adult on a 2,000 kCal diet is:


Water in food

Most foods contain water. The foods with the highest amount of water are:

Even cheese, pasta, legumes, poultry and meat contains some water.


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Excess of water - fluid retention

Fluid retention is caused when there is an imbalance of the electrolytes (chloride, potassium and sodium) within the cells and outside the cells of the body and / or an imbalance of certain proteins and hormones.

Fluid retention is also known as oedema, which causes a reduced ability to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the cells and to remove wastes from the cells. A very bad result of this condition is that the body cells stop functioning properly and ill health ensues.


Deficit of water - dehydration

Dehydration is a condition whereby more water is excreted than that which is taken in. Dehydration often occurs frequently after vomiting and diarrhoea because that is when an excessive amount of fluid is lost very quickly and not replaced quickly enough.

Dehydration can be a serious condition if not treated properly, especially in infants, young children and the elderly.

Symptoms of dehydration are:

Dehydration needs to be treated quickly to replace the water that has not been consumed, or has been lost.


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Water intoxication (or Hyponatraemia)

This is a rare, but fatal condition where the body is overwhelmed with water that it cannot excrete the excess water through the kidneys. This condition happens when excessive water is consumed or when the kidneys are not functioning properly. Basically the body's cells drown within themselves as they become swollen with excessive water, which is not excreted normally.

The symptoms of water intoxication are:

Water intoxication would generally not occur unless an excessive amount of water was consumed (around 30 litres of water or more).

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Last reviewed: 27 September 2007 || Last updated: 17 July 2008


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More information

To learn more, go to the official Dietary Reference Intakes web site.

NOTE: Mega doses of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, or other supplements cannot cure illnesses and in fact can be very dangerous and produce toxic side effects and interfere with medicine you are taking. Always ensure you consult your doctor before taking any type of nutrient supplement.
Disclaimer: This guide is not intended to be used for diagnostic or prescriptive purposes. For any treatment or diagnosis of illness, please see your doctor.


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