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The role and importance of water for human life and health

Water, a compound of hydrogen and oxygen, is the guarantor of life on our planet. It covers about 70% of the Earth’s surface in both liquid and solid form (ice), while in the surrounding atmosphere it occurs as water vapor. It is also the main component of our body, constituting circa 60-65% of the weight of an adult human. The amount of water in the body is higher in children, yet in the elderly this amount decreases. It is impossible to live without water, due to it essential nature for the life processes of all living organisms. But why? Let us explain in the article below.

Important functions of water in the body

Water in living organisms is a good solvent for substances present there. It is present both in the intracellular and extracellular space (intracellular space and blood plasma). We can also find it in the digestive tract, where it is secreted in the form of saliva, pancreatic juice or gastric juice.

Each cell of our body consists of 70% water, which is a solution of various substances. There we will find organic compounds with a small molecular weight, inorganic ions and dissolved macromolecules. Some insoluble compounds are suspended in it.

Thanks to the presence of water in the body cells, various biochemical processes can be launched.

Water as the basis of the processes taking place in our body

We hope there is no need to convince anyone how many important functions water has in enabling the proper functioning of such a complicated “machine” that is the human body. However, it is worth realizing some dependencies that we tend to forget on a daily basis.

During the food digestion process in the intestine, a large part of the ingested food is broken down into small water-soluble particles. This allows them to be absorbed into the blood, and then into the intercellular spaces and into the cells of the body.

It should also be mentioned that it is thanks to the presence of water that the body’s temperature is regulated. It can absorb excess heat and it is removed with the breath and during the evaporation of water through the skin.

Water solutions in the body also serve to moisturize the skin, mucous membranes and the eyeball. They are also necessary to ensure the mobility of our joints.

Why is proper hydration so important?

Supplying the body with water from the outside in the right amount is a prerequisite for survival. We can survive up to a month without food, but die roughly within a few days without water. As a result of physiological processes, we lose around 3-6% of the water present in the body during the day (and we have to replenish it). It is difficult to determine the exact individual needs, because it depends, among other things, on the following:

  • age,
  • physical activity,
  • humidity and ambient temperature.

Why is water scarcity dangerous to health?

Dehydration of the body causes deterioration of blood supply. What are the consequences? As a result of water deficiency and subsequent ischemia of the body, the following may occur: 

  1. impaired concentration and memory; 
  2. impaired coordination of movements; 
  3. headaches;
  4. heart problems; 
  5. digestive problems, drying of the mucous membranes, making our body vulnerable to pathogens

How to deliver water to the body?

We assimilate water not only in liquid form. Food also contains some. However, at least 1.5 litres of water in the form of drinks is necessary to supplement daily losses related to, for example, evaporation of water from the skin, urination or loss of water vapor with the breath.

The water we drink in our homes is not a pure chemical compound consisting of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, however. It can contain a variety of substances – both organic and inorganic.

Drinking water qualit

The water that flows from our taps is obtained from natural water intakes and purified in water treatment plants. In water from a natural intake flowing to us through waterworks, some other substances, like chloride, sulphate, bicarbonate, silicate, sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, ferric, ferrous and manganese ions can be present. Analogically, solids (soil, sand, light suspended particles) are removed from it and disinfected in order to get rid of pathogens. Such water may still contain other substances found in the natural source from which it was obtained. First of all, these are natural mineral salts, but unfortunately, so do contaminations resulting from environmental pollution as a result of human activity, be it industrial or agricultural.

The most common poisonous ingredients are compounds from petroleum and gasoline, compounds formed from the decomposition of plastics, solvents, detergents we use every day, plant protection products, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heavy metal ions, i.e. cadmium, lead and mercury.


Thoroughly dissolved undesirable compounds are the most difficult to remove.

In the pipes through which water flows to us, secondary infection with bacteria, fungi or viruses can occur.

Despite all these risks, tap water present in Poland meets the standards for drinking water. Let us take a look at the difference between the tap water and natural water.

Drinking water vs. natural water

Both types of water taken from surface sources and underground groundwater contains minerals that have been leached from rocks and soil. Its reaction is therefore dependent on what ions it contains. It often has an alkaline reaction resulting from compounds dissolved in it, such as calcium bicarbonate. If it contains dissolved carbon dioxide and organic acids leached from the soil, it may be acidic. Although slightly acidic water is not considered harmful to health, benefits for the body from drinking alkaline water are indicated. Tap water is usually close to neutral (pH 7).

Paying attention to the quality of the water we drink every day seems very important. The minerals dissolved in it are quite useful for our body. Calcium promotes bone health. Magnesium regulates the work of the heart, muscles and nervous system. Potassium takes care of the heart and circulatory system. Sodium regulates water and electrolyte balance. And these are only selected examples.


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