Key points

  • Water is the most abundant constituent of the human body and regular fluid intake is essential for our bodies to function properly.
  • The amount of fluid needed varies between people and according to age, time of year, climatic conditions, diet and levels of physical activity.
  • We can obtain our fluid requirements from a number of sources such as water and other drinks, as well as the food we eat.
  • Dehydration can impair physiological and performance responses, and in extreme cases can be fatal.
  • It can be dangerous to drink too much water as water intoxication can lead to hyponatraemia.
  • We have sensitive mechanisms to maintain our body water but attention should be given to children and older people who may not recognise the sensation of thirst so easily, to ensure they consume enough fluids.
  • Regular fluid intake and water replacement are essential before, during and after exercise.


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