| Water is a basic necessity for all life. Without
it, life can't exist. Even when water is limited, living organisms suffer.
You are no exception. For young athletes like yourself, not enough water
means you can't do your best. It can even cause serious health problems.
Our blood circulates like an ocean within us. The water in blood helps carry nutrients and energy to our body cells. It also carries waste products away from our cells for excretion from our body. Water helps regulate our body temperature, too--an important factor for all of us.
As a young athlete, you have a special need for water. When you participate in a sport like track or volleyball, you burn a lot of food energy (called calories). Some of that unleashed energy powers muscles. But some of that energy is released as heat. Water keeps you from overheating. Sweating and evaporation from the skin cools you down. However, water is lost in the cooling process. That can be dangerous if the water is not replenished. If you run low on water, your body can overheat, like a car that is low on cooling fluid. Losing just two percent of the body's water can hurt performance. A five percent loss can cause heat exhaustion. A seven percent to ten percent loss can result in heat stroke and death. Dehydration can kill.
Young athletes have a lot of growing to do. New muscle tissue must be made. Bones need to grow rapidly. And with all of the physical activity, some tissues need to be repaired. All of this metabolic activity requires an abundance of nutrients and energy carried to body tissues and waste products carried away. Water allows all of this to happen. Water is vital for your body's growth, repair, and physical activity.
Robert J. Reber, Associate Professor in Nutrition
Donald K. Layman, Professor in Nutrition.