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Just how much water do we really need? The answer may depend on our age

(February 24, 2004) BETHESDA, MD Just how much water does each of us really need? Not to swim in, or diet with. Not to respond to marketing claims, or counter salty foods or to cope with dry environments.

Many swear by the advice that for proper body hydration, 64 oz of water should be consumed each day. Other scientists and researchers disagree with that long held belief, recommending that one should only consume water "when thirsty."

Why should we be concerned? For one, water shortages may be the next great crisis faced by a planet with limited natural resources and exploding population growth. In March 2003, the United Nations issued a report stating that more than 2.7 billion people will face severe water shortages by the year 2025 if the world continues consuming water at the same rate. Wars have erupted over water rights; famine and mass starvation have resulted from climate changes that have turned gardens into deserts. Soon we will all be concerned about how much water we really need.

There is no question that water is vital to the body's overall health. We use water for transporting nutrients and wastes, lubrication, temperature regulation, and tissue structure maintenance. In addition, plentiful fluid consumption may be protective against diverse medical conditions, including kidney stones, constipation, colorectal cancer, premalignant adenomatous polyps, and bladder cancer. Water deprivation results in life-threatening dehydration within a few days. Loss of body water exceeding five percent of body weight leads to decreased endurance, culminating in heat exhaustion. Older vs. younger individuals have been shown to have a higher risk of developing dehydration than younger adults, which may be attributed to decreased total body water (TBW) with age, impaired renal fluid conservation, and physiological hypodipsia or insensible thirst.

Despite the physiological importance of water to life, little is known about
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Contact: Donna Krupa
djkrupa1@aol.com
703-527-7357
American Physiological Society
24-Feb-2004


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