Why We Should Not Worry That Much About Water Intake

A recent article in the NY Times rebuts the claim that so many kids are dehydrated: No, You Don’t Have to Drink 8 Glasses of Water a Day

An excerpt:

Prospective studies fail to find benefits in kidney function or all-cause mortality when healthy people increase their fluid intake. Randomized controlled trials fail to find benefits as well, with the exception of specific cases — for example, preventing the recurrence of some kinds of kidney stones. Real dehydration, when your body has lost a significant amount of water because of illness, excessive exercise or sweating, or an inability to drink, is a serious issue. But people with clinical dehydration almost always have symptoms of some sort….

This summer’s rash of stories was inspired by a recent study in the American Journal of Public Health. Researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2009 to 2012 to examine 4,134 children ages 6 to 19. Specifically, they calculated their mean urine osmolality, which is a measure of urine concentration. The higher the value, the more concentrated the urine…

But as people in this country live longer than ever before, and have arguably freer access to beverages than at almost any time in human history, it’s just not true that we’re all dehydrated.

Some of the key points:

  • Much of the research suggesting that there is an epidemic of under hydration is being funded by companies with a financial interest
  • Water is contained in both foods and other beverages
  • The research standard of urine osmalality >800 mOsm is not used clinically
  • There are no documented health advantages that have been identified in individuals who drink more fluid (except in those with documented history of kidney stones)

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