Ever give any thought to how critical water is to your health? You may have heard that we should drink eight 12-ounce glasses a day, but why? Knowing the value of water to our bodies and health should prompt us to give this fundamental nutrient greater attention.
Since we are made up of about 60% water (and babies are 78%), it stands to reason that we are what we drink as much, maybe more, than we are what we eat. Both the quantity and quality of water matters. Water is critical for a variety of essential body functions — it is a basic building material for our cells, helps regulate body temperature, aids in respiration, helps digestive system process foods, removes wastes from the body, lubricates our joints, aids good brain function (the brain is 73% water), and other important functions.
So that recommendation to drink about 8 glasses a day is understandable and we should put this in our daily regime, but while getting enough water is imperative, the quality of water is also important to our health.
Our drinking water comes from two major sources, surface water (rivers and reservoirs) and groundwater via wells. Municipalities rely on both sources. About 73% of US drinking water comes from surface sources and the remaining 27% from groundwater wells.
Public water supplies are regulated by EPA and go through extensive quality testing and treatment to ensure safety. Private well water quality is unregulated and the responsibility for ensuring quality is up to the homeowner.
Don’t know your source? If you get a monthly water bill, you are served by a public supply. All public suppliers are required to provide users with an annual water quality report or Consumer Confidence Report. Contact your water utility and check it out.
If you are on a well, test your water annually for nitrate and coliform bacteria. If you don’t have any recent water quality information, contact your local health department for recommendations on what to test for.
Remember to drink water for your health!