Water is an essential nutrient, and it is more important to life than any other element. The body wants more water every day than any other nutrient. Moreover, you can only survive for a few days without water, while a deficiency of other nutrients may take weeks, months, or even years to develop. Why is water important in the human body? Let’s find out.
The body maintains proper balance and fluid distribution with the help of another class of nutrients – minerals.
Water Importance In The Human Body: Water And The Body Fluids
Water makes up about 60 percent of an adult’s body weight and a percentage higher than a child’s body weight. Because water makes up about 75 percent of the weight of lean tissue and less than 25 percent of the weight of fat, body composition affects the amount of water in the body from its weight. The percentage of water is generally lower in females, obese people, and the elderly because of their lean tissue content.
In the body, water is the fluid in which all life processes take place. Water in body fluids:
- Maintains the structure of large molecules such as protein and glycogen.
- Participates in metabolic reactions.
- It also acts as a solvent for minerals, vitamins, amino acids, glucose, and many other small molecules to participate in metabolic functions.
- As a lubricant and shock absorber around the joints, inside the eyes and spinal cord, and during pregnancy, the amniotic sac that surrounds the fetus in the womb.
- It helps regulate natural body temperature, as the absorption of sweat from the skin removes excess heat from the body.
- Maintains blood volume. These activities take place in fluids that are carefully distributed in different parts throughout the body.
Distribution And Movement Of Body Fluids
Each cell contains fluid with the exact composition best for that cell. The fluid inside the cells is called the intracellular fluid, while the fluid outside the cells is called the extracellular fluid. The extracellular fluid that surrounds each cell is called the interstitial fluid, while the extracellular fluid in the blood vessels is called the intravascular fluid.
Fluid structures between and outside cells differ from one another. Their components are constantly inspected and replaced, yet the combination in each cabin remains remarkably stable under normal conditions. Maintaining a balance of about two-thirds of body fluids inside cells and one-third outside them is vital to cell life.
If too much water gets into the cells, they may rupture; If too much water is left, they will collapse.
Importance Of Water In The Human Body: Electrolytes Attract Water
When the electrolytes move across the membrane, the water follows them because the electrolytes attract water. The net charge of each water molecule is zero, but there is a slightly negative charge towards the oxygen of the molecule, and a slightly positive charge on the hydrogen molecule. This attraction allows the salts to dissolve in water and enables the body to transfer fluids to the appropriate parts.
Solutes Attract Water
Solution concentration reflects the amount of solute with respect to fluids. Think salt water, for example. One cup of water with a teaspoon of dissolved salt has the same concentration as half a cup of water with half a teaspoon of salt dissolved in it.
The ratio of salt to water is the same for the two solutions and will taste the same with regard to salinity. Adding more water will dilute the solution, making it less concentrated; It will not taste salty. Adding more salt makes the solution more concentrated; It will taste more salty.
The solute attracts water. The movement of water through the membrane towards more concentrated solutes is called osmosis. The amount of pressure needed to prevent the movement of water across the membrane is called osmotic pressure.
Proteins Attract Water
This explains why when protein escapes from blood vessels, the spaces between cells reduce the inflammation caused by the fluid. In addition, it regulates the transport of proteins, positive ions, and other fluids from one side of the membrane to the other. Negative ions follow the positive ions, and water leads to solutions of higher concentration.
The sodium-potassium pump is an example of a protein that regulates the flow of fluid and ions in and out of cells. The pump completely converts sodium into potassium through the cell membrane, using ATP as an energy source.
Water Importance In The Human Body: Water Balance And Recommended Intakes
Since imbalances can be disruptive, the body actively maintains an adequate water balance between intake and excretion. Thus, the entire cell system and its fluids remain in a delicate, yet controlled state of homeostasis.
At least during the day, the body should excrete enough water to carry waste from metabolic activities. Essential water discharge is 500 ml (about two cups) of water per day. In addition to this amount, the secretion is adjusted to balance the amount. If a person drinks more water, the kidneys excrete more urine, and the urine becomes thinner.
Additionally, in urine, water is lost from the lungs as vapor and through the skin as sweat. On average, total daily losses are around 2,500 milliliters.
Adequate fluid intake, in turn, helps maintain a healthy kidney and prevents kidney stones from forming.
Thirst and satiety affect the intake of water in response to changes in the mouth, cradle, and nerves. When the water intake is insufficient, the blood becomes concentrated (the loss of water but not the dissolved substances within it), the mouth becomes dry, and the hypothalamus begins the drinking behavior. When water intake is excessive, the stomach expands and stretch receptors send signals not to drink more water. Receptors in the heart send out similar signals as blood volume increases.
When the body loses a lot of water and is not compensated for, dehydration develops. The first sign of dehydration is thirst, which is a sign that the body is losing some fluid. If a person is unable to obtain water or, as is the case in many elderly people, fails to realize the message of thirst, symptoms of dehydration may rapidly develop from thirst to weakness, fatigue, and delirium – and end in death if not corrected.
Note that fatigue is one of the early signs of dehydration. Keeping this is a consideration when considering drinking caffeinated beverages in the afternoon and opting for water instead. Dehydration develops with either insufficient water intake or excessive water loss.
The obvious dietary source of water is water itself, which provides about a third of all water consumption in the United States. Additionally, other drinks and almost all foods contain water. Most fruits and vegetables contain about 90% water, while most meats and cheeses contain at least 50%.
Also, metabolic water is created as a final product during the reactions of condensation and oxidation of energy-containing nutrients. When energy-producing nutrients decompose, carbon and hydrogen molecules combine with oxygen to produce carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O). Water is obtained daily from these three sources. Drinks, food, and metabolism – on average approximately 2500 ml (2.5 liters or 10.5 cups).
Because water needs vary with diet, activity, environmental temperature and humidity, it is difficult to define general water requirements. Recommendations are sometimes expressed in proportion to the amount of energy expended under average environmental conditions; For adults, for example, from 1.0 to 1.5 milliliters per calorie consumed (about half a cup per 100 calories).
The recommended amount of water for a person who spends 2,000 calories a day is 2 to 3 liters of water (about 8 to 12 cups). This recommendation is in line with the Adequate Intake (AI) of total water specified by the DRI. Total water not only includes drinking water, but also water in other drinks and foods.
On average, most adults in the United States consume about AI for total water; older adults tend to consume less. Since a wide range of water intakes will prevent drought and its harmful consequences, AI relies on average intake. People who are physically active or who live in a warm environment may need more.
What Is the Best Drink?
What are the best drinks? Any drink can easily meet the body’s fluid needs, but those with little or no calories do so without contributing to weight gain. Given that obesity is a major health problem and that drinks currently account for more than 20 percent of total energy intake in the United States, water is the best option for most people. Other options include tea, coffee, skim and low-fat milk, soy milk, artificially sweetened drinks, fruit and vegetable juices, sports drinks, and finally sweetened drinks that are lacking in nutrients.
Since caffeine acts as a diuretic, people who drink caffeinated beverages may lose a slightly more fluid amount compared to drinking water, but the losses are relatively minimal. The DRI panel looked at these findings in its recommendations on water intake and concluded that caffeinated beverages contribute to a total daily water intake similar to that of non-caffeinated beverages.
Water Importance In The Human Body: Health Effects Of Water
Water supports good health. Physical and mental performance depends on this, as well as optimal functioning of the digestive system and kidneys, the heart and other body systems. The type of water a person drinks may also make a difference in health.
The water is usually either hard or soft. Hard water has higher concentrations of calcium and magnesium. The primary mineral for soft water is sodium or potassium. Practically speaking, soft water creates more bubbles with a little soap; the hardness of the water leaves a ring on the sink, a crust of rock-like crystals in a tea kettle, and a gray residue in the laundry.
Hard water may seem more desirable at home, and some homeowners buy water softeners that replace magnesium and calcium with sodium. However, in the body, hard water with sodium might worsen high blood pressure and heart disease. Conversely, the minerals in hard water may benefit these conditions. Hard water also dissolves some polluting minerals more easily, such as aluminum. These polluting minerals harm the body by removing nutrients from their natural sites of action.
Many people choose bottled water, believing that it is safer than tap water and therefore well worth the cost. Hence, water is one of the most important elements for a human body to work efficiently.
Also, read this article: Chemical Reactions In The Body – How Does It Work?
- Usman loves to write about motivational content, self-development, and anything related to living a healthy life. He has a passion for helping others to be the best version of themselves.