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Water in diet

Definition

Water is a combination of hydrogen and oxygen. It is the basis for the fluids of the body.

Alternative Names

Diet - water; H2O

Function

Water makes up more than two-thirds of the weight of the human body. Without water, humans would die in a few days. All the cells and organs need water to function.

Water serves as a lubricant. It makes up saliva and the fluids surrounding the joints. Water regulates the body temperature through perspiration. It also helps prevent and relieve constipation by moving food through the intestines.

Food Sources

You get some of the water in your body through the foods you eat. Some of the water is made during the process of metabolism.

You also get water through liquid foods and beverages, such as soup, milk, tea, coffee, soda, drinking water, and juices. Alcohol is not a good source of water because it is a diuretic. It causes the body to release water.

Side Effects

If you do not get enough water each day, the body fluids will be out of balance, causing dehydration. When dehydration is severe, it can be life threatening.

Recommendations

The Dietary Reference Intake for water is between 91 to 125 fluid ounces (2.7 to 3.7 liters) of water per day for adults. However, your individual needs will depend on your weight, age, and activity level, as well as any medical conditions you may have. Keep in mind that this is the total amount you get from both food and beverages every day. There is no specific recommendation for how much water you should drink. If you drink fluids when you feel thirsty and have beverages with meals, you should get enough water to keep you hydrated. Try to choose water over sweetened drinks. These beverages can cause you to take in too many calories.

References

Bistrian B. Nutritional assessment. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 214.

Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate (2005). National Academies Press. fnic.nal.usda.gov/sites/fnic.nal.usda.gov/files/uploads/DRI_RDAs_Adequate_Intakes_Total_Water_Macronutrients.pdf Accessed October 12, 2016.

Wolf R, Wolf D, Rudikoff D, Parish LC. Nutrition and water: drinking eight glasses of water a day ensures proper skin hydration - myth or reality? Clin Dermatol. 2010;28(4):380-3. PMID: 20620753 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20620753.

Review Date:7/14/2015
Reviewed By:Emily Wax, RD, The Brooklyn Hospital Center, Brooklyn, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. Editorial update 10/12/2016.

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