By: Nutrition expert- Vidula Kozarekar, Mumbai.
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“Water is an essential nutrient required for life.”
Water is defined as an essential nutrient because it is required in amounts that exceed the body’s ability to produce it. All biochemical reactions occur in water. It fills the spaces in and between cells and helps form structures of large molecules such as protein and glycogen. Water is also required for digestion, absorption, transportation, dissolving nutrients, elimination of waste products and thermoregulation (1).
How much water should I drink?
Human requirements for water are related to metabolic needs and are highly variable. They depend to some extent on individual metabolism. A person who perspires heavily will need to drink more than someone who doesn’t. Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, may also mean you need to drink more water (2).
Age and gender specific Adequate Intakes (AI) for water were established in 2004 by the Food and Nutrition Board. The Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) for water are shown below: (3)
Common symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration: (4), (5)
- Dry mouth/tongue
- Dry skin
- Muscle weakness
- Light-headedness, Dizziness and
- Lack of focus
Hydration and health outcome: (6)
- Water carries nutrients to all cells in our body and oxygen to our brain
- Water allows the body to absorb and assimilate minerals, vitamins, amino acids, glucose and other substances
- Water flushes out toxins and waste
- Water helps to regulate body temperature
- Water acts as a lubricant for joints and muscles
How to improve water intake? (7)
- Carry a water bottle for easy access when you are at work of running errands.
- Choose water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages. This can also help with weight management. Substituting water for one 20-ounce sugar sweetened soda will save you about 240 calories. For example, during the school day students should have access to drinking water, giving them a healthy alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages.
- Choose water when eating out. Generally, you will save money and reduce calories.
- Add a wedge of lime or lemon to your water. This can help improve the taste and help you drink more water than you usually do.