Why water is an indispensable nutrient?

Why water is an indispensable nutrient?

Water matters much for a clean bill of health. Water is the most copious compound and the dynamic participant of all biochemical reactions that take place inside the body. From digestion to absorption, energy production to elimination, joint lubrication to circulation and even reproduction requires ample quantity of water.

Water is an indispensable nutrient required for existence, accounting for about 50–60% of total body mass. To be well hydrated, an average sedentary adult man must consume at least 2,900 ml (fluid per day) and the average sedentary adult woman at least 2,200 ml (fluid per day) in the form of non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic beverages, soups and foods.

The Nationwide Food Consumption Surveys indicate that a segment of the population may be chronically mildly dehydrated. Several factors may enhance the probability of chronic mild dehydration, including a poor thirst mechanism, dissatisfaction with the taste of water, participation in exercise and environmental conditions. Dehydration of as little as 2% loss of body weight results in impaired physiological and performance responses.

The national research council recommends fluid intake of 1 ml/kCal energy requirements for an adult living under normal conditions. Hence, a reference man will need 2900 ml and a woman will need 2200 ml fluid per day. Water requirement during exercise, pregnancy and lactation increases with activity.

Early symptoms of dehydration includes

  • head ache,
  • fatigue,
  • loss of appetite,
  • heat intolerance,
  • dry mouth and eyes,
  • light headedness,
  • burning sensation in the stomach,
  • muscle cramps,
  • painful urination and
  • dark urine with strong color.

A person should stay more hydrated when he

  • performs exercises,
  • lives in high temperature,
  • lives in high altitude,
  • consumes high fibre diet,
  • consumes medicines on a regular basis and
  • when there are increased fluid losses like perspiration, diarrhea, vomiting.

Adverse effects of prolonged dehydration

  • Renal stones
  • Diminished mental performance, irritation, inability to focus
  • Diminished physical activity, feeling sluggish
  • Decreased saliva secretion
  • Frequent episodes of urinary tract infection, urinary tract cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer
  • Increased risk of overweight and obesity

Individuals should be concerned about the total water intake similar to dietary intake and simple technique like observing the colour of the urine can help them to maintain their hydration status. Nowadays soft drinks have an impact on the diet, fluid and nutrient intakes more than in previous generations due to their easy availability, affordability, changing food trends and advertising by food venders. The importance of water intake as a fluid should be emphasized to the present generation to avoid various disorders that emerge due to water imbalance.

Image Credit: Flickr/ Philografy


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