LSU AgCenter Nutritionist Cites New DRIs for Water Sodium and Potassium

News You Can Use For July 2004  

The National Academies’ Institute of Medicine recently released Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) for water, sodium and potassium. DRIs focus on reducing the risk of diet-related chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and osteoporosis, according to LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames.

DRIs replaced the Recommended Dietary Allowances in 1997. They are a collection of nutrient recommendations that include recommended dietary allowances, estimated average requirements, adequate intake and tolerable upper-intakes, Reames explains.

DRI for water.

Drinking when thirsty will meet the total water needs of most people, according to the report. Total water includes the water contained in beverages and the moisture in foods, as well as plain drinking water.

The report states there is no convincing evidence that caffeine leads to total body water deficits. The diuretic effect of caffeine appears to be transient, so that caffeinated beverages can be used to meet hydration needs.

The report set general recommendations for total water intake based on national data, which showed that women who appeared adequately hydrated consume an average of 91 ounces (11 cups or 2.7 liters) or total water each day, and men average 125 ounces (16 cups or 3.7 liters) daily.

Although most people can meet fluid needs by drinking when thirsty and regularly consuming beverages at meals, prolonged physical activity and heat exposure will increase water losses and therefore may raise daily fluid needs. In very hot weather, very active individuals often have daily total water needs of six liters or more, according to several studies, Reames says.

In addition to physical activity and environmental conditions, diet composition, disease and health conditions and use of diuretics and other medications can affect water needs. It’s also important to remember that water needs vary from day to day.

Besides beverages, such as milk and fruit juice, many foods, especially fruit and vegetables, contain large amounts of water. Fruits and vegetables contain about 90 percent water by weight and meat, fish and poultry about 60 percent to 70 percent water by weight. Fruit juices and milk are excellent beverage choices for meals and snacks.

DRI for sodium.

The report recommended that healthy adults (ages 19 to 50) consume 1.5 grams of sodium (3.8 grams of salt) each day. This is sufficient to replace the daily average amount of sodium lost through perspiration and achieve a diet that provides adequate amounts of other essential nutrients. One teaspoon of table salt contains 2,325 milligrams (2.325 grams) of sodium.

Elevated blood pressure is associated with sodium intake. On average, blood pressure rises progressively as salt intake increases. The tolerable upper intake level (UL) was set at 5.8 grams of salt (2.3 grams of sodium) per day. In the United States, more than 95 percent of men and 75 percent of women in this age range regularly consume salt in excess of the UL.

Salt and many processed foods contain high amounts of sodium. Most naturally occurring foods are low in sodium.

Reames advises to read food labels to find out how much sodium food contains. To reduce the amount of sodium in your meals and snacks, she says to season foods with lemon, onions, garlic and salt-free or low salt seasonings.

DRI for potassium.

Adults should consume 4.7 grams of potassium per day. Potassium is needed to counteract the effects of salt and reduce the risk of kidney stones and bone loss. On average, men consume only 2.8 grams to 3.3 grams of potassium per day, and women 2.2 to 2.4 grams per day.

Reames says fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of potassium. Milk, whole grains, dried beans and meat are also good sources.

For information on related family and consumer topics, visit the FCS Web site at
Inst/Extension/Departments/fcs/  For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.


On the Internet: LSU AgCenter:
Source: Beth Reames (225) 578-3329, or

4/19/2005 10:28:31 PM
Rate This Article:

Have a question or comment about the information on this page?

Innovate . Educate . Improve Lives

The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture