Everybody needs water to live. Water is among the first and most important things your body needs to function. There is simply no system, organ, or body part that does not need to be hydrated in order to function. This means that your bones need adequate hydration to stay healthy, too. It might come a surprise, because most people probably don’t associate hydration with bones, but dehydration can lead to osteoporosis and other musculoskeletal conditions.
What does water do?
Water makes up about 60% of your body weight. It regulates our body temperature, makes waste elimination possible, and keeps the entire body lubricated. The water we drink helps cushion joints, and even helps to process and absorb nutrients from food. If you don’t drink enough water, or lose too much from sweating, your body becomes dehydrated. There are many effects of dehydration that most people aren’t aware of.
Your bones are constantly reproducing cells to rebuild those lost from age and strengthen them with minerals stored within the bone structure. Far from being dry and brittle, healthy bones contain about 31% water. That’s right; our bones are nearly 1/3 water. The marrow contained on the inside is responsible for the production of red blood cells. The amount of water you consume affects how well your bones can do their job.
Water brings calcium and other nutrients throughout the body, including to your bones. You may know that kidney stones are comprised mostly of calcium, and they are partly a result of not drinking enough water. Even if you are careful to eat a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, those nutrients will not make it to your bones without water. As your bones lose minerals and need to rebuild and strengthen, a lack of available calcium can lead to bone loss and eventually osteoporosis. Since water also helps rid the body of toxins, these substances can and do build up in the bones if there is not enough water to carry them away. This can lead to inflammation and a break down in bone mass.
It is well known that there are several possible causes for loss of bone density, but this is one you can control. Drink plenty of water!
How much water should you drink?
Because the body is so dependent on adequate water consumption, everyone should know how much they need to drink for it to work optimally. Hot weather, activity level, and weight all influence how much you need to drink to stay hydrated. Paying attention to your body will usually cue you in on how much you need to drink. Have a glass of water with each meal and don’t hesitate to reach for water when you are thirsty. The old adage that you should drink 8 glasses of water a day is not necessarily accurate, because it also depends on your activity level and body processes. If you are the kind of person who gets absorbed in work or activity and neglects to eat or drink, give yourself reminders to drink up.
Some symptoms you may feel when you become dehydrated include dry mouth and eyes, headache, constipation, and dark or decreased amount of urine. Muscle cramps are also a sign of dehydration.
Making sure your bones are strong and healthy is one of the things orthopedic physicians excel at. In the Tri-Cities are, Watauga Orthopaedics helps people with all kinds of bone problems, including decreased bone density related to osteoporosis. To schedule an appointment, call (423) 282-9011 today.