Water is the major component of the human body. The human body contains 50 to 75% water, with the exact percentage depending on age, sex, hormone and activity level, and hydration. Water is necessary for the functioning of all our organs. For instance, the kidneys cannot function properly without enough water. Although we’re typically concerned about being dehydrated, it’s worth noting that overhydration is also equally dangerous.
Importance of the Water for Mineral Balance
Minerals play various important roles in the body. For example, they help synthesize enzymes, hormones, and hemoglobin. As a result, minerals affect nearly all parts of the human body.
In a state of overhydration, water affects the concentration of the essential minerals, potentially adversely impacting health. For example, drinking too much water can dilute your blood sodium levels, causing a condition called hyponatremia.
Overhydration can occur when you drink too much water, which causes fluid imbalances in the body. Put simply, this means your body holds on to more fluids than your kidneys can excrete, which can affect electrolytes levels. This can eventually cause fluid accumulation within cells, which is dangerous. Thus, overhydration should be treated promptly.
Signs of overhydration you should look out for include:
- The color of your urine
The color of your urine changes according to your hydration status (and health condition). Clear, colorless urine could be a sign of overhydration, and it is an option for the first observation.
- Frequent urination
Most people urinate between 6 and 8 times a day. If you’re urinating too often, you may be drinking more water than your body needs.
- Feeling nauseous and having headaches
Headaches and nausea are signs of overhydration. When you drink too much water, the salt concentration in your blood decreases. This, in turn, could cause swelling of the cells in the organs throughout the body. The resulting water pressure on your brain can cause headaches.
We get electrolytes through our diet, and we excrete them through various body fluids, most often through sweating and urination.
As mentioned, overhydration causes unbalanced electrolytes. So you’ll have to replenish them through your diet. Electrolytes to keep an eye on include:
Sodium – Needed for fluid balance, muscle contractions, nerve signals, etc. Sodium also helps regulate blood pressure, along with fluid and electrolyte balance. Salt is the best source for getting sodium, but you should still avoid overconsumption as it can be harmful to your health.
Potassium– Plays an important role in nerve and muscle function, fluid balance, maintenance of normal blood pressure, and regulation of heart rhythm. Overhydration calls for a higher intake of potassium. Potassium-rich foods include bananas, legumes, beets, and dried fruits.
Magnesium – A trace element that has huge vital importance for health. It helps ensure proper functioning of the nervous system and regulates muscle contractions and relaxations. Thus, explaining why overhydration signs and symptoms include muscle pain, spasm, and weakness. Magnesium-rich food sources include nuts, seeds, dark chocolate, whole grains, legumes, avocado, and many more.
In addition, you could also prevent overhydration by:
- Reducing fluid intake
- Avoiding intense physical activity
- Stopping certain medications (with clearance from your healthcare provider)
To Sum up
The body needs large amounts of water because water makes up as much as 75% of body weight. We cannot survive without water for more than a few days. That said, the risk of overhydration (i.e., drinking too much water) still exists. As mentioned, overhydration is dangerous. That’s why you should pay attention to your daily fluid intake – make sure you’re getting just the right amounts of water into your body. And in cases where you suspect yourself of being overhydrated, do seek professional help promptly.