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Water is a colorless and odorless liquid made up of molecules containing two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen. Water is essential for all life to exist, as it makes up more than 70 percent of most living things. While a human can survive more than a week without food, a person will die within a few days without water.
Water serves as a solvent for nutrients and delivers nutrients to cells, while it also helps the body eliminate waste products from the cells. Both the spaces between cells (intercellular spaces) and the spaces inside cells (intracellular spaces) are filled with water. Water lubricates joints and acts as shock absorbers inside the eyes and spinal cord. Amniotic fluid, which is largely water, protects the fetus from bumps and knocks.
Water also helps the body maintain a constant temperature by acting as a thermostat. When a person is too hot, whether from being in a hot environment or from intense physical activity, the body sweats. When sweat evaporates, it lowers the body temperature and restores homeostasis.
About 70 percent of the earth's surface is covered with water. The amount of water in a human body depends on age, gender, body type, and level of physical activity. The bodies of infants up to about twelve months of age contain about 58 percent water; the bodies of children six to seven years of age are 62 percent water; teenage boys are about 59 percent water; and teenage girls are about 45 percent water. The body of an adult male is approximately 62 percent water, while an adult female is 51 percent water. Physically active individuals generally have more water in their bodies than those who are less physically active. Because they sweat more, active people need to replenish water more often, thus raising their water level. A trained male runner may have up to 71 percent water in his body, while a female gymnast may have 70 percent. Obese individuals, on the other hand, have a lower percentage of water in their bodies (about 48%). Morbidly
Author Info: Kweethai C. Neill, The Gale Group Inc., Macmillan Reference USA, New York, Gale Nutrition and Well-Being A to Z, 2004
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