August 19, 2011

Milk Beats Water Or Sports Drinks In Thwarting Dehydration

A new study suggests that milk is better than water or sports drinks at countering dehydration among children who exercise.

"Milk is better than either a sports drink or water because it is a source of high-quality protein, carbohydrates, calcium and electrolytes," wrote study author Dr. Brian Timmons, an assistant professor of medicine at McMaster University in Canada, in a statement.

This is particularly important during the hot summer months, he noted.

Milk replaces sodium lost in sweat, and helps the body retain fluid better, Timmons said.

Furthermore, unlike other drinks, milk provides protein that children need for growth and muscle development.

"Children become dehydrated during exercise, and it's important they get enough fluids, particularly before going into a second round of a game," Timmons said.

The study, funded by the Dairy Farmers of Canada, involved children aged eight to 10 years old.  Participants exercised in a climate-controlled chamber, and were then given a drink before researchers measured their hydration levels.

Timmons said active children and adults typically do not drink enough to stay hydrated during exercise, and often have a "hydration disadvantage" when they begin their next period of exercise.

Indeed, a one percent dehydration can cause a decrease in performance of up to 15 percent, he said.

Inadequate hydration can also increase heart rate and core temperature, while lessening the ability to continue exercising.  Dehydration also increases the risk of temperature-related illness such as heat stroke.

The researchers are now looking for adolescents aged 14 to 16 years old to participate in the second stage of the research.


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