Hydrating yourself throughout the day is necessary, but did you know that there is such a thing as over-hydrating your body? We are all informed of the ill effects of dehydration, but over-hydration can be just as dangerous. Before yesterday, when I was informed that a family friend had been hospitalized years ago due to water intoxication, I had no idea that drinking water could actually kill me. When too much water is consumed, there is an increase in the amount of free water in the body which results in dilutional hyponatremia (lack of sodium present in body fluids). When the amount of sodium in fluids outside cells drops, water moves into the cells to balance the levels causing body cells to swell. When brain cells start to swell, they are unable to handle it because they are confined by the skull and cannot expand. Physical signs of water intoxication are abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, lethargy, and dizziness. It can potentially lead to convulsions and coma.
In one case, a 28 year old mother participated in a radio show contest called “Hold your Wee for your Wii”. Contestants had to keep drinking water over a period of time without using the restroom. If you had to go, you were out of the game. Hours after the contest ended, the woman was found dead in her home.
In another case, a 21 year old student at California State University pledging to a university drank excessive amounts of water while performing calisthenics in a cold basement. He ended up dying from heart failure as a result of water intoxication.
In 2005, a Washington, D.C. police officer was on a 12 mile exercise training ride when he consumed over three gallons of water and began experiencing what was thought to be heat exhaustion. In turn, he was given more water. At this point, he began vomiting and convulsing, eventually going into a coma and dying on the way to the hospital.
People think because we are constantly advised to drink water and stay hydrated, water must be harmless. We must be warned that even excessive consumption of a good thing can be deadly. So how much water is too much? “The United States Department of Agriculture, food and nutrition information center, in general recommends an average daily fluid intake, including liquids from foods and other beverages, of 2.7 liters or 91 ounces for women, and 3.7 liters or 125 ounces for men spread throughout the day.” The average person should consume no more than 8 oz of water per hour to give the body adequate amount of time to absorb, use, and excrete the water effectively. Source
A simple formula for your basic water requirement:
Low end of range= Body weight (lbs) x 0.5 = (ounces of fluid/day)
High end of range=Body weight (lbs) x 1 = (ounces of fluid/day)
Remember that your body’s need for hydration will vary depending on your activity level, air temperature, humidity, altitude, and your individual physiology. So please, drink responsibly!
I am a graduate of Oakland University in Michigan with a BS in Health Sciences. My studies included Nutrition courses, Community Health courses, Alternative Medicine courses, and Human Anatomy Courses. My studies jump-started my interest in natural and alternative medicine, but my real interest came through my own research and personal use of supplements and natural alternatives. When I am not learning about the world of natural alternatives, I spend my time with my boyfriend of nearly 5 years who I have also put supplements to the test on. I am so excited to be writing this blog to share my research and findings with you and I hope we can all learn something new!