According to the government’s Eat Well guidelines, one should be drinking 6-8 glasses (2 litres) a day! A child between 5-8 years old is recommended to have half of that (~1 litre), 9-12 year olds around 1.5 litres and 13+ the same as adults…. And this does not include fruit juices of any sort, nor the liquid water from food sources such as fruit.
This is also subject to change in this current hot weather; younger children are less heat tolerant and therefore can dehydrate quicker than adults, and are unable to regulate their water balance with such precision as adults can. It can also vary according to age, gender and physical activity levels in which you could be sweating more often.
Dehydration upsets the mineral balance in your body and thus it can’t function as normal. We know how important it is to replenish lost fluids and electrolyte stores in your body, otherwise dehydration will affect cognitive capabilities as well aerobic performance capacity for those little superheroes of yours!
A recent study in the European Journal of Sports Medicine compared the effects of a glucose polymer drink, a sports drink and plain water on performances amongst athletes, and evidence found that when water was used for rehydration, the athletes had a high performance level. So it’s clear that good old fashioned plain water is best, don’t be lured into the marketing of other branded drinks that promote hydration!
Water is the main constitute of the human body – 60% in fact, and your brain is 90% water! A study as recent as last month in the Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise Journal confirmed much previous evidence, that as little as 2% loss of body fluid can cause a decline in mental function. This is why it’s so important for your little ones to stay hydrated at school to help their concentration. Maybe it’s time to go shopping together and buy them a new water bottle!
There are other vital roles of water in the body. It is an essential building block, carrying nutrients to cells and removing their waste. It’s also very important in the thermoregulation of the body, as I’m sure you are aware we sweat to cool down! Regulations are thus kept very tight as to not deter from its homeostasis. For more information on the subject, check out this article from the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Despite being a vital component in the body, water is often forgotten about… there is more hype about eating your 5-a-day than drinking your 2 litres a day! Thus kids may not remember to drink themselves, and you may have to remind them!
A good indicator of dehydration is that if you’re feeling thirsty. If you are worried or unsure whether you or your child are dehydrated, check the good old-fashioned way of inspecting your urine – you can refer to NHS urine colour charts to compare samples.