Food and Behaviour Research

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Mild dehydration affects mood in healthy young women

Armstrong LE, Ganio MS, Casa DJ, Lee EC, McDermott BP, Klau JF, Jimenez L, Le Bellego L, Chevillotte E, Lieberman HR (2012) J Nutr. 2012 Feb;142(2):382-8. Epub 2011 Dec 21   

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Limited information is available regarding the effects of mild dehydration on cognitive function. Therefore, mild dehydration was produced by intermittent moderate exercise without hyperthermia and its effects on cognitive function of women were investigated. Twenty-five females (age 23.0 ± 0.6 y) participated in three 8-h, placebo-controlled experiments involving a different hydration state each day: exercise-induced dehydration with no diuretic (DN), exercise-induced dehydration plus diuretic (DD; furosemide, 40 mg), and euhydration (EU). Cognitive performance, mood, and symptoms of dehydration were assessed during each experiment, 3 times at rest and during each of 3 exercise sessions. The DN and DD trials in which a volunteer attained a ≥1% level of dehydration were pooled and compared to that volunteer's equivalent EU trials. Mean dehydration achieved during these DN and DD trials was -1.36 ± 0.16% of body mass. Significant adverse effects of dehydration were present at rest and during exercise for vigor-activity, fatigue-inertia, and total mood disturbance scores of the Profile of Mood States and for task difficulty, concentration, and headache as assessed by questionnaire. Most aspects of cognitive performance were not affected by dehydration. Serum osmolality, a marker of hydration, was greater in the mean of the dehydrated trials in which a ≥1% level of dehydration was achieved (P = 0.006) compared to EU. In conclusion, degraded mood, increased perception of task difficulty, lower concentration, and headache symptoms resulted from 1.36% dehydration in females. Increased emphasis on optimal hydration is warranted, especially during and after moderate exercise.