All About Hydration

Would you believe me if I told you that water is the most common nutritional deficiency in the American population?

Hopefully that little fact got your attention.

Water is the most important nutrient in the body, making up approximately 55-60% of total body mass. It has numerous roles, including transporting nutrients, cushioning bones and joints, regulating body temperature, removing waste, flushing toxins, and moistening oxygen for easier breathing. It cannot be stored long-term so regular, adequate hydration is necessary for the body to function normally.

What exactly is adequate hydration? The amount of water you should drink each day is highly dependent on many factors, such as age, activity level, where you live, the season, prescriptions you may take (some have a diuretic effect), and the volume of diuretics you consume. A general rule of thumb though is to consume half of your body weight in ounces each day. So, if you are a 150 pound woman, you should be drinking about 75 ounces of water a day.

Consumption should increase to compensate for any diuretics consumed, which includes coffee, caffeinated tea (green and black), some herbal teas such as peppermint, soda, alcoholic beverages, fruit juices, and, as mentioned above, some prescription pills. Generally, you should add one and a half times more ounces of water than the ounces of diuretics you consume. So, if you drink a 12 ounce cold brew from Starbucks, you should drink 18 additional ounces of water to make up for the loss caused by the diuretic effect of the coffee.

Dehydration is a serious problem. If the body’s water content drops as little as 2% symptoms such as fatigue will set in. A drop of 10% will cause significant health problems. Losses over 10% can cause death. Some early signs of dehydration include fatigue, anxiety, irritability, depression, cravings, cramps, and headaches. Signs of more advanced dehydration status include heartburn, joint pain, back pain, migraines, fibromyalgia, constipation, and colitis.

Reflect for a second on your daily hydration habits… How much water do you drink on a daily basis? Is it something you even think about? Do any of the symptoms of dehydration strike a cord with you? If you don’t drink enough water, what goal can you set today to start to increase your water consumption?