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A great debate: How much water should you drink?

By David Freidson | Posted: Monday, July 29, 2013 12:00 am

Dehydration is a life or death issue and this hit home with me recently.

About a month ago I was having a great time at The Boulevard restaurant in Minnetonka with my 94-year-old grandmother who was with all of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

My grandma was having a great time with the babies. She was healthy and happy. Little did I know that was the last time I would see her. Cause of death ... dehydration.

My grandma was playing cards as she did every Monday but she wasn't feeling herself. She vomited and an ambulance came and took her to the hospital. The diagnosis at the hospital was dehydration, so they started her on IV fluids. She was doing well at 8 p.m. that night, but in the overnight hours her systems started shutting down, as they couldn't overcome the loss of fluid. By 8 a.m. the next morning she had passed.

When we get older, our ability to recognize thirst decreases, especially after age 50. Our kidneys are what regulate the body's water supply, and when we age, the function of the kidneys to do this are diminished. Older adults often take diuretics for high blood pressure, which increases the loss of water in the body.

How do you know if you're drinking enough water? Check the color of your urine. Your urine should be pale to pale yellow. If your urine is bright yellow or dark yellow, then you're dehydrated (note that urine is temporarily bright yellow after taking B-vitamins separately or in a multivitamin.)

You should not go by the color of your urine if you are drinking a lot of caffeine, alcohol, or are taking in a lot of diuretics; you should go by ounces or cups per day.

The Institute of Medicine recommends 13 cups per day for men and nine per day for women. A cup is 8 ounces of water. My recommendations are to add a cup of water for each glass of a caffeinated beverage, alcoholic beverage or diuretic medication that you take.

I also recommend that you add a cup of water for every 15 minutes of exercise that you are doing and for every 15 minutes that you are in the sun (because you lose water through sweat).

Fruits and vegetables have high water content and you can subtract a half a cup of water for each serving of a fruit or vegetable you take. A glass of juice or uncaffeinated soda can count as a water substitute but be weary of the calories in these beverages.

What about eight glasses of 8 ounces of water per day you ask? No one really knows where that advice came from, but it has stuck because it is easy to remember.

Instead of the "8 by 8" advice, I recommend going by the information in this article. Please keep this article and send it to anyone you care about so that they can have this information - it could literally save their life.

David Freidson is a licensed chiropractor and works out of the Synergy Health & Rehabilitation office in Minnetonka. To learn more, visit www.synergyhealthmn.com or call 952-475-4080.

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