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May 16, 2016 | Dermatology • Family Medicine • Wellness Institute
You’ve no doubt heard throughout your life that your body contains a lot of water. But do you know how much?
Newborn babies are around 78% water, but that amount drops to 65% by the time they reach one years old. By adulthood, 55-60% of their bodies are water.
Water is vital for every one of your body’s functions, and adequate water intake is more important than ever during the warm summer months. Here are five good reasons to drink up.
Water regulates your internal body temperature, keeping you cool through sweating and respiration. But the more you sweat and the heavier you breathe during hot months, the faster you use up your water reserves. If you don’t replace fluids as fast as you excrete them, you dehydrate and risk overheating. Heat stroke is a serious and sometimes life-threatening condition.
How much water you need every day varies according to age, gender, size, weight, activity level and geographic location. You’ll receive some of your water from food, but an easy-to-remember guideline is to drink between half an ounce and an ounce of water for each pound you weigh. For example, if you weigh 180 pounds, that would be 90 to 180 ounces of water a day. If you’re very active and live in a warm climate, be safe and round up to one ounce per pound.
Experts caution that if you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Your muscles are 79 percent water, and they need adequate fluid to contract smoothly. If you skip on fluid intake during summer workouts and family activities, you may suffer muscle spasms and aches.
Sports drinks are usually only recommended for high-intensity athletes that need to replace lost electrolytes and potassium, although a mildly dehydrated adult can benefit from adding a bit of salt to a glass of water.
Water acts as a vital nutrient to the life of every cell in your body. Your brain and heart are composed of 73 percent water, and your lungs are about 83 percent water. Normally, the water ratio inside cells is higher than the one found in the cell environment, but when you’re dehydrated, the cells can lose up to 28 percent or more of their water volume.
This imbalance affects all cellular activities in every organ and bodily system. Metabolic waste products are not transported out of your body properly, and illness, pain and symptoms of disease can set in from the cellular damage and lack of nourishment.
Your brain and heart are composed of 73 percent water, and your lungs are about 83 percent water.
As we age, our bodies are less likely to trigger the urge to drink when we need water. “Adults over the age of 60 who drink only when they are thirsty probably get only about 90 percent of the fluid they need.” Experts recommend that seniors make it a habit to drink even when they are not thirsty, especially if they are physically active or live in warm, dry climates. Heat typically affects older people more adversely than younger adults, putting them at greater risk for heat exhaustion.
Kids generate more heat than adults, but they sweat less, making adequate hydration for your little ones extra important during summer play. Ensure that your child takes a water bottle to every outdoor event, and require mandatory drink breaks throughout the day, whether the child indicates thirst or not.
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that a child who weighs approximately 90 pounds should drink 5 ounces of water, or 10 gulps, every 20 minutes. Teens weighing 130 pounds need 9 ounces, or 20 gulps, during that same time.
Would you like to learn more about keeping your entire family safely hydrated this summer? Revere Health’s Family Medicine providers handle a variety of medical needs for patients of all ages in a broad range of disciplines including internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, and geriatrics. We are passionate about preventative care, and our mission is to build long-term, caring relationships with our patients and their families.
The Live Better Team
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.