The human body is 60 percent water. Your body is constantly losing water through various physiologic mechanisms. Sweating, going to the bathroom and even breathing cause the body to lose water. Without replenishing this loss, either through drinking liquids, food intake or by more extreme measures such as intravenous fluids or tube feeding, severe repercussions may occur. Confusion, decreased blood pressure, electrolyte imbalances and cardiac arrhythmias are primary dehydration symptoms.
All cells consist partially of water. Of the 60 percent total water composition of the body, two-thirds of that is intracellular and one-third is extracellular. This is commonly referred to as the 60-40-20 rule, meaning that there is 60 percent water composition with 40 percent intracellular and 20 percent extra-cellular, states the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics at The University of Vermont. The fluid outside of the cells is found mostly in the space surrounding the cells, the circulating plasma within the bloodstream, as well as in other fluids such as mucus and digestive agents.
Blood and Fluid Volume
The body requires water to maintain the volume of blood and other fluids. When more water is lost than taken in, dehydration can result. Chronic dehydration occurs over time and can result from inadequate replacement of daily water losses. Acute dehydration occurs when a large amount of water is lost in a short time period and not replaced. This can occur from sweating during strenuous exercise or from decreased fluid intake, vomiting or diarrhea during illness. Dehydration is a factor in kidney stone development, according to the University of Arkansas.
The Universal Solvent
Water is necessary for the dissolution and dispersion of vitamins, minerals, glucose, amino acids and other nutrients. Water also assists with the digestive process. It helps break down food, aids in the movement of food through the intestines and carries waste products and toxins out of the body through urine and feces.
Water is essential for regulating body temperature through thermoregulation. The hypothalamus directs thermoregulation, to maintain an internal temperature at rest of 36.5 to 37.5 degrees Celsius, or 97.7 to 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit, notes the University of New Mexico. In the process of evaporation, temperature receptors in the skin send signals to the hypothalamus to increase the sweat rate when the body needs cooling. Because sweat is made up of water and electrolytes, this results in an increased rate of water loss.