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Why is water the body’s essential nutrient? Water delivers to each cell the exact ingredients the cell requires and carries away the end or elimination products of its life-sustaining reactions. Therefore, bodily fluids serve as the transport vehicle for all the nutrients and wastes. Without water, cells, tissues, and organs die quickly. Simply put, body functions cease without this element and the host body cannot survive. Other major roles of water within the human body include solvent, cleansing agent, lubricant, and cushion, as well as a coolant. Each of these roles is discussed below and detail why water is the body’s essential nutrient.
Water makes up approximately 60 percent of an adult person’s weight. Consider a 150-pound individual who has 90 pounds of water in their body. The water contained within the human body is not only attributed to the bloodstream or arteries, capillaries, and veins. The soft tissues and organs also account for a significant amount of the body’s water. In fact, the brain and muscles are 75 to 80 percent water by weight. Moreover, the bones also contain 25 percent water. Furthermore, some of the body’s water is incorporated into the chemical structures of compounds that form the tissues, organs, and cells of the body.
One of the primary reasons why water is the body’s essential nutrient is that it serves as a nearly universal solvent. It dissolves amino acids, glucose, minerals, and many other substances needed by the cells. Moreover, fatty substances can travel freely in the blood and lymph systems because they are uniquely packaged within water-soluble proteins.
The element also serves as the body’s cleansing agent. Small molecules, such as nitrogen, and their end products generated during protein metabolism dissolve within the blood and must be removed before they build up to toxic concentrations within the body. The kidneys act as filters for these waste products and excrete them, mixed with water, as urine. When the kidneys become diseased, as can happen in diabetes and other disorders, toxins can build up to life-threatening levels. In many cases, a kidney dialysis machine might then take over the task of cleansing the blood and body by filtering wastes into water contained in the dialysis machine.
Lubricant and Cushion
Water molecules resist being forced together. Thanks to their van der Waals forces, which are forces of attraction and/or repulsion between molecules or parts of the same molecule, the element can act as a lubricant and cushion for the joints. Moreover, it also acts as a shock absorber for vital tissues, such as the spinal cord. Furthermore, the fluid that fills the eye acts a cushion to keep an optimal pressure on the retina and lens. Similarly, a fetus is cushioned against shock by the bag of amniotic fluid in the mother’s uterus. Also among its vital functions, water acts as a lubricant for the respiratory tract, digestive tract, and all tissues that are moistened via mucus.
Another important function of the element within the human body is its ability to help maintain body temperature. Sweat, and the water within that bodily fluid, acts as the body’s coolant. Heat is produced as a byproduct of energy metabolism and can build up to dangerously high levels within the human body. To rid itself of this excess heat, the body routes its blood supply through the capillaries just under the skin. At the same time, the skin secretes sweat and its by-product evaporates. When water is converted to vapor, it requires energy. Therefore, as sweat evaporates, heat energy dissipates, cooling the skin as well as the underlying blood. The cooled blood then flows back to cool the body’s core. Sweat evaporates continuously from the skin, usually in slight amounts that go unnoticed. As such, the skin is a major organ through which the element is lost from the body.
Many people might wonder why water is the body’s essential nutrient. The element acts as a transport system to and from each cell, in which it delivers the exact ingredients each cell requires as well as carries away the end or elimination products of its life-sustaining reactions. As such, bodily fluids serve as the transport vehicle for all the nutrients and wastes. Without water, cells, tissues, and organs die quickly. In short, body functions cease without this element and the host body cannot survive. The element has several important roles within the human body. Some of these vital roles include solvent, cleansing agent, lubricant, and cushion, as well as a coolant. Each of these roles is necessary for human life and functioning. This explains why water is the body’s essential nutrient.
Written and Edited by Leigh Haugh
Everyday Health–The Health Benefits of Water
National Institutes of Health–Water as an Essential Nutrient: The Physiological Basis of Hydration
University of New Mexico–Water: The Science of Nature’s Most Important Nutrient
Better Health Channel–Water: A Vital Nutrient
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