Water has a wide variety of health benefits, from improving the look of hair and skin to proper kidney function.

“Most people, they sleep better, they don’t get as many headaches,” said Dr. Tamara Spriggs, of Front Royal Family Practice, about drinking water. She added that water also helps people feel fuller longer, so they might stave off hunger and avoid overeating.

Good hydration is especially important for children and older adults, according to the Mayo Clinic, which says children can become dehydrated after experiencing diarrhea or vomiting, in addition to not taking in enough water.

A Harvard University study published in the American Journal of Public Health on June 11, 2015, found that more than half of all U.S. children and adolescents aren’t hydrated enough, “probably because they’re not drinking enough water,” the university wrote in a June 2015 news release at its website, www.hsph.harvard.edu.

The first national study of its kind from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, it pointed to “a situation that could have significant repercussions for their physical health and their cognitive and emotional functioning.”

The study found that black children and adolescents are more than 34% more likely than white children to be dehydrated, and that boys had a 76% higher risk than girls.

“Drinking enough water is essential for physiological processes such as circulation, metabolism, temperature regulation, and waste removal,” the university wrote. “Although excessive dehydration is associated with serious health problems, even mild dehydration can cause issues, including headaches, irritability, poorer physical performance, and reduced cognitive functioning.”

Researchers used data from 2009-2012 on more than 4,000 children aged 6-19 years old who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a study of the health of U.S. children and adults conducted each year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They used urine osmolality — a measure of how concentrated a person’s urine is — to determine whether or not participants were adequately hydrated.

Older Americans are also at risk of dehydration. The Mayo Clinic lists health conditions and medications as some factors specific to the elderly, and the National Institutes of Health report that many older people aren’t aware of how important water is to their day-to-day life.

A Dec. 7, 2017, study published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging concluded that “appropriate education and attention to hydration may improve quality of life, reduce hospitalizations and the economic burden related to hydration-associated morbidity and mortality.”

How much water a person needs can vary, depending on weight, activity level and medical conditions. Though people can get water from foods and other drinks, Spriggs said it’s still important to focus on water intake.

For adults, she recommends a liter of water each day in addition to any other drinks and said that carrying a reusable water bottle or canteen can help people ensure they get enough water throughout the day.

Those interested in tracking their water intake might consider carrying a journal or using a cellphone app, such as Pee & See, which aids users in tracking how often they’re going to the bathroom.

The app was created by Syracuse, New York, resident John Ganotis, 31, who said he was inspired by his own experience with frequent headaches.

Realizing he probably wasn’t drinking enough water, he said the idea for the app came after he asked himself, “What’s an easy way to remember to drink water?”

It’s easy for people to forget to keep up with their water intake if they’re busy working or running errands, he said in a recent phone call. He figured others might share similar experiences in their quest for more water.

“It’s just something that seemed reasonable,” he said.

The app is available for iPhone and Apple Watch. Instead of recording how much water people are drinking, Ganotis said it tracks how often people use the restroom.

“In its more basic form, you just tap a button every time you go to the bathroom, and if it’s been more than 3 hours, you get a reminder,” he said.

“My mission with creating this is to help people stay hydrated,” he said.

He estimates about 1,200 people use the app on a regular basis so far, and about 60 have used it for more than a year without missing a day.

“People do have really positive feedback that the app makes them feel more in tune with their bodies,” he said.

There’s also a subset who use the app to track bladder and kidney disorders.

“I just started it as a water reminder, but it did find this other audience, too,” he said.

There is room for improvement, since he said the app doesn’t have a mechanism to tell people if they’re going too frequently.

{p dir=”ltr”}”It just indicates if your average is less than three hours,” he said. “[That’s] a time that seems reasonable for most people.” Also, users can opt for more reminders throughout the day.

Since upping his water intake, Ganotis said he’s experienced fewer headaches.

“I would say it’s my first real app that had long-term value for people.”

For more info, visit www.peeandseeit.com.

Contact Josette Keelor at jkeelor@nvdaily.com