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Dehydration: Could You Be Dehydrated?

Water is more important than you think; so important that you could survive a few weeks without food, but only a few days without water. Dimi Deliyiannis reports.

Water is a vital element. Our environment and body needs a good supply of water in order to survive. Failing to meet your daily fluid intake could result in dehydration and cause some serious health risks. So severe in fact, that too much fluid loss could even become life threatening.

On a daily basis, the human body requires an average fluid intake of about 1 litre. This is just a general figure and requirements may vary depending on your level of activity. If you are physically active, your body may require about three times the basic amount.

Failing to replenish your body with water leads to fluid losses. Water is required in order to perform day-to-day functions, and when basic fluid levels are not met, physical bodily functions are compromised. Your brain, blood, muscles and even your bones, all need water.

Dehydration can cause tiredness, constipation and even tooth decay. It can also lead to less calories being burned per day, according to Cynthia Sass, RD, CSSD, national media spokesperson for the American Diabetes Association. "Being well-hydrated helps our bodies function optimally and improves our looks, including our skin," she says.

Symptoms of Dehydration

According to the Rehydration Project the following may be symptoms of dehydration:

- Extreme thirst
- Cramping (specifically in the arms and legs)
- Dry mouth and skin
- Headaches
- Irritability
- Sleepiness
- Dizziness

Moderate to severe
- Low blood pressure
- Fast, but weak pulse
- Fainting
- Bloated stomach
- Wrinkled skin
- Sunken, dry eyes with little or no tears
- Heart failure

You can prevent dehydration by ensuring that you are taking in enough fluids and replacing them when they are lost. Exercise causes you to lose fluids, therefore it is recommended that you drink water before, during and after workouts. Also keep an eye on your caffeine intake. For every cup of coffee or other beverages containing caffeine you consume, remember to drink at least two cups of water to replace water lost.

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