Active woman drinking water     Many of us take water for granted, and we certainly don’t think of it as a nutrient, like vitamins and minerals. But, in fact, water is an essential nutrient. Meaning it is essential to our survival. We must have an adequate amount of water in our diet in order for our body to function properly.

Why is water so vital for life?

  • It transports vital minerals, vitamins, and glucose to the cells.
  • It’s needed for the chemical reactions that breakdown protein and carbohydrates.
  • It protects your tissues, spinal cord and joints.
  • It removes waste products, including toxins, from the body.
  • It helps to regulate the body’s temperature.

Getting enough water is also critical for the health of your heart. Your heart pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood a day. A well hydrated body will allow the heart to pump blood more easily. If there is not enough water in your system, your blood becomes thicker and your heart has to work harder by beating faster. In addition, when the heart has to work harder to push thicker blood through the veins, the result is elevated blood pressure.

So how much water do you need to stay well hydrated? Well, you may be surprised to hear that there is no scientific evidence to support the specific advice to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. Though 8 x 8 is an easy formula for people to remember, the amount of hydration you need depends on many factors:

  • body size
  • age
  • diet
  • illnesses
  • climate
  • physical activity

The Food and Nutrition Board does not specify exact requirements for water intake. It does give a general recommendation of approximately 91 ounces (about 11 cups) of water per day for women and 125 ounces (about 15 cups) of water per day for men. This is the total water intake from both food and beverages. Some foods, such as fruits and vegetables, have high water content. While processed foods, such as cereals, breads and chips, contain very little water and may in fact absorb water from your system.

Bottom line: To stay well hydrated, drink fluids throughout the day and eat water-containing foods, like fruits and vegetables, with each meal. Be aware that certain medical conditions, intense exercise and a diet high in processed foods may require you to drink more.