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For those of us who live, work, and play in the Arizona desert, dehydration is a very serious subject. Lack of water can lead to dehydration, a condition that occurs when you don't have enough water in your body to carry on normal functions.

Even mild dehydration — as little as a 1 percent to 2 percent loss of your body weight — can sap your energy and make you tired.

Dehydration poses a particular health risk for the very young and the very old.

Signs and symptoms of dehydration include:

  • excessive thirst
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • dry mouth
  • little or no urination
  • muscle weakness
  • dizziness
  • lightheadedness

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms you should contact your physician immediately.

Here are some tips for increasing your water consumption:

  • At work keep a large water bottle on your desk
  • At home keep a pitcher of water in your refrigerator
  • Carry a water bottle with you when you leave the house
  • Change to decaffeinated coffee, tea and soda, instead of caffeinated beverages
  • For every caffeinated beverage you drink, drink a glass of water
  • Drink a glass of water before meals and snacks
  • Order water at restaurants
  • Add lemon or lime to your water if it allows you enjoy water more

Water in a Nutshell

We don't often think of water as a nutrient, but it is as important to our health as any of the nutrients. This may seem obvious, as we know life cannot be sustained without water. The human body is made up of 60 -75% water and water is used by every cell of the body. All the many biochemical reactions and metabolic processes that take place in the body depend on water. The body cannot function optimally or efficiently when it is not well hydrated with fluids. Water is the primary component of our body fluids; it aids in digestion, provides the vehicle for circulating nutrients and oxygen through the body, as well as for the elimination of waste. It helps lubricate joints, protect organs, and maintain normal body temperature. A well hydrated body is necessary for optimal exercise and athletic performance.

Water Losses

On average, your body losses 8 - 12 cups of water a day. This is increased by:

  • exercise
  • hot weather
  • low humidity
  • altitude
  • high fiber diet
  • consumption of caffeine and alcohol containing beverages

Are You Getting the Water You Need?

The National Research Council's Food and Nutrition Board says each of us needs about one milliliter (ml) of water for each calorie of food we consume. On a 2,000-calorie a day diet that's about 74 fluid ounces, or slightly more than nine 8-ounce glasses a day. According to Heinz Valtins (Dartmouth Medical School kidney specialist) report in the American Journal of Physiology points out that some of the water you require is right there in your food. For example, fruits and vegetables are full of water. In fact lettuce is 90 percent water.