Whether drunk from the tap or a bottle or eaten in foods, water has important health benefits. Insufficient consumption can lead to muscle spasm, renal dysfunction, increased risk of bladder cancer, and even death. Because adequate water consumption is important, the Institute of Medicine (a member of the National Academies), through its Food and Nutrition Board, is developing Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) for water and electrolytes. (The new DRIs are superceding the old Recommended Dietary Allowances, or RDAs.)
The traditional recommendation for adequate water consumption for adults is "at least 8 glasses of water a day." However, no scientific research has examined the relationship between health risk and this traditional recommendation. Also, little scientific study has been published that compared traditional and other current recommendations of water consumption among healthy, free-living older adults.
Because the elderly are especially at risk of dehydration, we examined total water consumption from the moisture contained in foods and beverages as well as from plain water. We used data from three national surveys: (1) the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988-1994 (NHANES III); (2) the 1994-96 Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals (CSFII 94-96); and (3) the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999-2000 (NHANES 99-2000). Our sample consisted of 4,818 adults ages 60 or older from NHANES III, 3,092 from CSFII, and 1,391 from NHANES 99-2000. Body weight was sell-reported in the CSFII but was measured by a trained examiner in both NHANES surveys. Self-reported intake data were based on l-day dietary recall in all three surveys. The results reported in this study are weighted to reflect the U.S. elderly population.
Importance of Water Consumption
Water is the most...
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