NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Good Hydration Can Promote Healthy Aging

Two children in the park, the older one holding a water bottle to the younger child's mouth

Photo:  Credit Amorn Suriyan/Shutterstock

Adults who stay well-hydrated appear to be healthier, develop fewer chronic conditions and live longer than those who may not get sufficient fluids, according to an NIH study published in eBioMedicine.   

Using health data from 11,255 adults over a 30-year period, NHLBI researchers analyzed links between serum sodium levels—which go up when fluid intake goes down—and various indicators of health. They found that adults with serum sodium levels at the higher end of a normal range were more likely to develop chronic conditions and show signs of advanced biological aging than those with serum sodium levels in the medium ranges. Adults with higher levels also were more likely to die at a younger age. 

The study expands on research the scientists published in March 2022, which found links between higher ranges of normal serum sodium levels and increased risks for heart failure. 

Both findings came from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, which includes sub-studies involving thousands of Black and White adults from throughout the United States.

For this latest analysis, researchers assessed information study participants shared during five medical visits—the first two when they were in their 50s and the last when they were between ages 70-90. Researchers excluded adults who had high levels of serum sodium at baseline check-ins. 

They then evaluated how serum sodium levels correlated with biological aging, assessed through systolic blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and other health markers that provided insight about how well each person’s cardiovascular, respiratory, metabolic, renal and immune system was functioning. They also adjusted for age, race, biological sex, smoking status and hypertension.

Normal ranges of serum sodium levels fall between 135-146 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L). Adults with serum sodium levels above 144 mEq/L correlated with a 50% increased risk of being biologically older than their chronological age. 

The National Academies of Medicine suggests that most women consume 6-9 cups of fluids daily and for men, 8-12 cups. Research shows about half of people worldwide don’t meet daily water intake recommendations.

The NIH Record

The NIH Record, founded in 1949, is the biweekly newsletter for employees of the National Institutes of Health.

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