World water day: all you need to know about water requirements at different life stages

Each year 22nd March is celebrated as World Water Day. Every year United Nations observes World Water day to emphasize the importance of saving water, providing hygienic water, and measures to limit its wastage. This year the theme is valuing water. In order to highlight this theme, we would like to focus on water requirements at different life stages.

Our body comprises of 65–70% water, depending on the body size. It provides an aqueous medium to the body fluids like blood, gastric juices, interstitial fluid, cerebrospinal fluid, etc. Water is an essential ingredient to allow the movement of solutes like nutrients, gases, etc in the body. Water is also associated with the regulation of our body temperature. Water is an essential component although it does not provide any calories, one cannot continue normal body functions without water. The human body does not store water and hence; the amount which is flushed out, must be replaced by an equal intake.


Water requirements at different life stages:

  1. Infancy: Infants less than 6 months of age derive enough water from mothers\’ milk. Hence, water should be introduced only after 6 months. Infants are very sensitive to changes in hydration status (total volume of body water) and hence, they should be given an adequate amount of water to avoid dehydration.

Dehydration can also be fatal in children. In infant stages, mothers can give dal/ moong soup/ vegetable stock — 2–3 times in a day instead of just plain water.

Remember do not replace dal and rice with just dal water or rice water. Dal and rice water alone cannot provide enough calories and proteins for growth so these should be given in medium to thick consistency.

2. Childhood and adolescence: As kids grow, they learn to get accustomed to their thirst. However, mothers need to pay close attention to their water intake and ensure good hydration especially during playtime, sports activities, physical exercises, etc. 

Mothers can provide adequate hydration to kids by choosing healthy fluids such as coconut water, buttermilk, lime juice, jaggery water, milkshakes, smoothies, etc

Mothers can use whey (water that remains after preparing paneer) for kneading chapati or paratha dough.


3. Adulthood: In adults, thirst is the most significant indication of replenishing water. Hence, one should never ignore this indication, especially during physical exercises/ sports/ other rigorous activities/hot weather, etc. One should pay attention to few signs of inadequate intake of water like decreased urine output or concentrated urine. While water intake may depend on various factors like age, body size, activity level, climatic conditions, presence of comorbidities, health conditions like fever, etc; it is important to keep the body well hydrated at all times.

During times of increased water losses like fever or loose-motions, adults should opt for healthy drinks suck as buttermilk, lime juice, jeera water, cucumber water, etc. To maintain good hydration status for fitness, one can opt for coconut water, honey and lime water, avla water, cinnamon water, whey water, etc. Restrict the use flavoured waters which include artificial flavours and colours.


4. Lactating mothers: Lactating mothers should prefer enough water (i.e. additional 0.5 to 0.7 liter per day) especially during hot climatic conditions so as to ensure adequate breast milk production. They may choose to increase fluid intake in the form of fresh fruit juices, soups, coconut water, aamti or rasam, etc.

5. Old age: During old age, at times the thirst sensation may not keep pace with the exact water requirement by the body especially during sickness/ hospitalization/ etc. In old age, individuals may be more susceptible to both, water as well as electrolyte (mainly sodium and potassium) imbalance owing to the reduced ability of kidneys to strike a balance.

Individuals with old age should drink enough water and consume water containing fruits and vegetables in their daily diet such as spinach, celery, cucumber, tomato, lettuce, cabbage, bottle gourd (lauki), melons, oranges, sweet lime, etc.


6. Other disease conditions: Water requirements may be completely different if one has disease conditions that cause water retention such as cardiac (heart)failure/ kidney failure/ lung failure, etc. Due to the water retention, one can face problems such as swelling on the feet or face/ breathlessness/ high blood pressure/ etc.

Hence, water intake should be restricted in such individuals. On the other hand, water intake needs to be increased in cases of kidney stones or kidney transplants. Hence, such patients should always consult their doctor to know their exact water intake. They should always use a measured bottle to keep a track of their fluid intake.

To conclude, water is an extremely essential ingredient in daily routine, and its functional value is often missed or understated. On this World Water Day, let us pledge to drink enough water according to our life stages.


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