60% of our body weight is represented by water. This percentage is higher in childhood and decreases with age and with the increase in fat deposits. Water is the fundamental solvent for all products of digestion, regulates cell volume, body temperature, is essential to eliminate all metabolic waste from the body and allows the transport of nutrients.
To the water that we introduce with food and drink we need to add about 350 ml products every day from cellular respiration.
It is not possible to establish a daily requirement for water as the need varies with climate, age, diet and activity. A daily intake of water between 1 ml / Kcal and 1.5 ml / Kcal of energy spent in the adult allows to balance losses and make the solute load tolerable for the kidneys. Especially in the child, it is necessary to check that there is a contribution of 1.5 ml / kcal of energy spent, the greater the quantity of water per unit of weight and the lower the renal capacity. Even pregnancy and breastfeeding lead to a greater need for water.
Water losses occur physiologically with respiration, sweating, urination; pathologically with vomiting and diarrhea. Dehydration can cause imbalances ranging from cramps to hallucinations and loss of consciousness. Water reductions for 20% of body weight are incompatible with life; on the contrary, an excess of body water content can give neurological symptoms.
How water is distributed in the body
Total body water is located mainly inside the cells and forms the intracellular fluid; the part that constitutes the extracellular fluid includes the interstitial fluid, the plasma, the lymph and the transcellular fluid. Aging causes a decrease in total body water, while in some diseases (cirrhosis of the liver, heart failure, nephrotic syndrome) total body water and the relationship between the intra and extracellular fluid changes. The balance between the volume of the incoming and the outgoing water is regulated by the center of the hypothalamus silica through the antidiuretic hormone which acts on the renal absorption.
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