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Good Hydration Aids Physical and Mental Performance

Water is one of the body's most essential nutrients. People may survive six weeks without any food, but they could not live for more than a week or so without water. That is because water is the cornerstone for all body functions. It's the most abundant substance in the body, accounting for up to 75 percent of body weight. It helps keep body temperature constant, it transports nutrients and oxygen to all cells and carries waste products away. Water helps maintain blood volume, and it helps lubricate joints and body tissues such as those in the mouth, eyes and nose. And water is truly a liquid asset for a healthy weight—it is sugar free, caffeine free, and calorie free.

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Even mild dehydration can affect a person's physical and mental performance. As with physical functioning, mild to moderate levels of dehydration can impair performance on tasks such as short-term memory, perceptual discrimination, arithmetic ability, visuomotor tracking, and psychomotor skills.1,2,3,4

 

How Much Water Do Children Need?

The daily amount of water that a child or teen needs will depend on factors such as age, weight and gender. Air temperature, humidity, a person's activity level and his or her overall health affect daily water requirements, too. The Children’s' Total Daily Water Requirements chart below can help you identify about how many liters of water your child or teen needs each day (one liter is about four cups of liquid). These water recommendations are set for generally healthy children living in temperate climates.

 

The amount of water that your child or teen needs each day might seem like a lot, but keep in mind that the recommendations in the chart are for total water, which includes water from all sources: drinking water, other beverages and food. Fruits and vegetables have a much higher water content than other solid foods. Their high water content helps keep the calorie level of fruits and vegetables low while their nutrient level remains high—another perfectly great reason for kids to eat more from these food groups.

 

So how do you apply total water recommendations to your child's day? As a rule of thumb, to get enough water, your child or teen should drink at least six to eight cups of water a day and eat the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Also pay special attention to your child's or teen's water consumption when he or she is physically active. Before, during and after any physical activity, kids need to drink plenty of water, especially in hot weather. The goal is to drink one-half to two cups of water every 15 to 20 minutes while exercising.

 

Children’s Total Daily Water Requirements5

Age Range   

 

Gender    

 

Total Water (Liters/Day)

4-8 years        

 

Girls and boys    

 

1.3

9-13 years    

 

Girls

 

2.1

 

 

Boys

 

2.4

14-18 years

 

Girls    

 

2.3

 

 

Boys

 

3.3

Note: Total water includes all water contained in food, beverages and drinking water.

Source: www.eatright.org/kids/article.aspx?id=6442470651#sthash.oH42YXiu.dpuf

 

1 Cian C, Barraud PA, Melin B, Raphel C. Effects of fluid ingestion on cognitive function after heat stress or exercise-induced dehydration. Int J Psychophysiol. 2001;42:243–251. 

2 Cian C, Koulmann PA, Barraud PA, Raphel C, Jimenez C, Melin B. Influence of variations of body hydration on cognitive performance. J Psychophysiol. 2000;14:29–36.

3 Gopinathan PM, Pichan G, Sharma VM. Role of dehydration in heat stress-induced variations in mental performance. Arch Environ Health. 1988;43:15–17. 

4 D’Anci KE, Vibhakar A, Kanter JH, Mahoney CR, Taylor HA. Voluntary dehydration and cognitive performance in trained college athletes. Percept Mot Skills. 2009;109:251–269. 

 5Data are from Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) Tables. Recommended Daily Allowance and Adequate Intake Values: Total Water and Macronutrients.