Coconut Water: Is It Good For You and Can It Help With Hydration?

Whether or not Robinson Crusoe was sustained by it, coconut water has gathered a following among fitness fans looking for an all-natural alternative to sports drinks, but it may not be good enough for all athletes. However, science has found evidence to support the role of coconut water in health and medicinal applications. One of the traditional uses of coconut water is as a growth supplement in plant tissue propagation and culture, but a wider application can be justified by its unique chemical composition of sugars, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and phytohormones. 

Coconut Water Nutrition Facts

Why does a coconut contain water and what is coconut milk? Great questions! Turns out that “WATER absorbed by the root system flows against gravity through the capillaries to the nut. Freshwater that gets accumulated in coconut is actually 'endosperm' or the food or nourishment for the coconut's growth (1)”. This water is served directly to quench thirst. Coconut milk, on the other hand, is the product obtained by grating the solid endosperm with or without additional water to use in recipes, baking, etc.  

Coconut water is more than 90% water, the milk about 50% water, but also containing fat and protein (Seow, 1997). Coconut water is a clear isotonic (meaning that the tonicity, or tension of a solution is similar to that of a body fluid and exerts basically the same pressure on both sides of a membrane).solution plentiful in young coconuts. As the coconut matures, its chemical composition and liquid volume change. The liquid may exceed half a liter at nine month’s maturity (Jackson, 2004).

Coconut Water + Anti Aging

One lesser-known benefit of coconut water may be in its anti-aging properties. While the vitamin content of coconut water is low,  its phytonutrients (Chemicals produced by plants with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits), cytokinin (a class of plant growth substances that promote cell division), and its analog kinetin (a type of cytokinin), have demonstrated appreciable impact as anti-aging agents. 

Isolated more than half a century ago, cytokinin has a potent biological effect on plant cells and tissues that influence gene expression, cell cycle, chloroplast development, biosynthesis stimulation of vascular architecture, and delay of aging. In fact, in a randomized, double-blind, controlled study, a combination of topical cosmetic ingredients that featured kinetin and niacinamide was found to induce a reduction in spots, pores, and wrinkles and to re-establish evenness after eight weeks (Chiu, 2007). Additionally, age-related changes attributed to lipofuscin, an indicator of damage represented as brown pigmentations from oxidized fats, were delayed (Rattan, 1994).

Is Coconut Water The Best Electrolyte Replacement Options? 

Is coconut water the best way to stay hydrated? There are mixed opinions. Though not quite as balanced as some electrolyte replacement beverages, and lacking in sodium, coconut water is not the worst option for hydration. To overcome coconut water’s sodium shortfall, some formulators add salt and other enhancements to their drink and then market it as a complete sports beverage. This type of adulteration is common and can ramp up calories and added sugars without really giving you true hydration benefits. 

The absorption of coconut water is far superior to that of soft drinks, though, which are often used as fluid replacements by those who are unaware of other options (Chavalittamrong, 1982). The problem with this application, however, is the variability of sodium and glucose content of the coconut fluid at various stages in its development (Fagundes, 1993). A legitimate coconut water purveyor will have analyzed his product before packaging and will put that data on the label.

Another thing to consider is cost. Coconut water costs about fifteen cents an ounce. A quality electrolyte replacement concentrate, making four gallons of sports beverage, costs about four cents an ounce, and has the right balance of potassium and sodium, the two important players in muscle contraction and relaxation.

Finally, in terms of nutrients, coconut water is touted as being high in potassium — one of the electrolytes essential to muscle function as the body’s predominant intracellular cation. One cup of coconut water (240 gm) carries about 600 mg of potassium, which is a fraction of the Institute of Medicine’s recommended 4700 mg. The concern is that potassium needs to be balanced with sodium, the electrolyte first lost to heavy sweating. This is where coconut water falls short as a sports beverage. The sodium content of one cup of coconut water is about 250 mg, not enough to aid recovery after a hard workout that spent eighteen times that by sweating more than a day’s worth of suggested intake. In comparison, there’s more sodium in a glass of vegetable juice. 

The Optimal Way to Hydrate

If coconut water isn’t the best way to hydrate and get the electrolytes your body needs to function optimally, what is? First, it’s important to remember that electrolyte loss can be a result of stress, exercise, poor diet, pregnancy, illness, or medications. This means that every one of us can probably use the extra support. To support all bodies in an affordable way we’ve crafted a product with the three ingredients you need to bring your electrolytes back into the ideal pH balance; sodium, potassium, and magnesium. We add zero sugar or artificial sweeteners, just pure salty electrolytes. Learn more and try BodyBio E-Lyte here.

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