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Hydration: The water, salt, potassium connection

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Keeping your body hydrated by taking in enough fluids is an important part of good health. But even if you don't drink the recommended eight glasses of water each day, you probably don't have to worry.

Counting the food and beverages people consume each day, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) says Americans are usually getting enough water without purposely drinking more.

Caffeinated beverages can be counted. IOM's Food and Nutrition board says there is little evidence that caffeinated beverages flush water and its benefits from the body. They do contribute to hydration, but are often full of sugar and phosphates, which can weaken bones and teeth.

The real problem is salt. The average man takes in two to three times the amount of salt the body needs and women get twice as much as they need.

The second problem is a lack of potassium, an essential nutrient found in spinach, potatoes, cantaloupe, bananas, almonds, and mushrooms. IOM recommends that adults get at least 4.7 grams of potassium daily, but the average man gets between 2.8 and 3.3 grams. Women get between 2.2 and 2.4 grams.

Doctors writing in HealthNews say getting too much salt and too little potassium increases the risk of high blood pressure. Balancing these two nutrients is very important.

Before exercising or when you are outdoors in hot weather, drink extra water to make up for what you lose through sweating.

By limiting salt, getting enough potassium, and drinking more on hot days, you should keep your body properly hydrated.

Long Island Health, Fitness & Beauty Articles > Hydration: The water, salt, potassium connection

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