Many seniors like to start their day with a good, hot cup of coffee. But for years we have been told that coffee can cause dehydration of the elderly bodies. It is the caffeine in coffee that causes the quicker production of urine. Caffeine is a diuretic, which is a substance that causes the body to lose fluids through urination.
Truth be known, healthy, hydrated seniors do not face a threat of dehydration. Starting the day with a cup of coffee actually lessens the risk of dehydration, because drinking coffee on a regular basis lowers the diuretic affect.
Dehydration is simply losing more body fluids than those taken in. Dehydration can have a very negative effect on the human body, especially for infants, children and the elderly. The National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine states, the average woman needs to take in 91oz of water per day and for men 125 oz daily. These numbers are based on the following conditions, a healthy, sedentary person who lives in a moderate climate. If a person is physically active, or has certain health issues and lives in a warmer climate, they need a higher fluid intake to maintain proper hydration. Total hydration numbers are based on all fluids and foods ingested in a day. It is estimated that on average, 20-30% of our need comes from food, with 70-80% from water and other fluids.
The concept that caffeine is a diuretic (causing more and faster urination) leading to dehydration is considered a myth by science and health professionals, simply because all the water in coffee offsets the diuretic effect of caffeine. Below are some comments made by science and health professionals;
- AMERICAN ACADEMY of FAMILY PHYSICIANS (AAFP)
“Normal caffeine intake does not increase the risk of dehydration in athletes or non-athletes.”
- NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE (NHS)
“It’s fine to drink tea or coffee as part of a balanced diet.” However, they do warn that caffeine can cause the body to produce more urine quicker depending on the amount of caffeine that is consumed.
- NATIONAL ISTITUTE of HEALTH (NIH)
“For most people, it is not harmful to consume up to 400 mg of caffeine (4-5 cups of coffee) daily.”