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MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Lance Cpl. Eliberto Vela, a ground communication organizational repairman with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit command element, replenishes his thirst so his body can keep up during a conditioning hike. Photo by Cpl. Jeffrey Belovarac
Stay Hydrated. Stay In The Fight.

Water is needed for almost every chemical reaction in the body, so staying hydrated should be a top priority for Marines.

Thirst is an indicator of dehydration, so drinking consistently throughout the day before you even reach the point of thirst is very important.

Tracy Bowman, dietician for Semper Fit Health Promotions, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., said some early signs of dehydration are cottonmouth, thirst, muscular and mental fatigue and dizziness.

“Symptoms can escalate to delirium and unconsciousness, even death,” she said. Rebekah Rayfield, dietician for the Wellness Clinic at the Naval Health Clinic in Cherry Point, N.C., said a good way to judge hydration is a urine analysis – the clearer the urine, the better.

“Make sure you drink between 16 to 24 ounces for every pound of weight lost after exercise,” Rayfield said.

Rayfield also recommends a simple formula to those curious of how much water to drink daily. Half of bodyweight = ounces of water that should be consumed daily. A 180-pound Marine should drink 90 ounces of water per day.

Doctors recommend that you drink the equivalent of two canteens of water per day – even more so in hot or arid environments. Remember, lack of hydration is the primary trigger of daytime fatigue.

Water is the optimal fluid source for hydration, but milk, juices, fruits and vegetables also have fluid. Stay away from caffeinated beverages, as caffeine is a diuretic that causes an increase in fluid excretion.

Sports drinks may be worth using if the exercise goes longer than an hour, is very intense, or the Marine sweats excessively.

“Sports drinks like Gatorade help restore and keep electrolytes in balance; electrolytes help cells carry electrical impulses to other cells,” Bowman said.

Bottom line…drink some water, drink some Gatorade and you’ll stay away from the “silver bullet.”

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