Beverage osmolality as a marker for maintaining appropriate body hydration

Rocz Panstw Zakl Hig. 2017;68(2):167-173.


Background: Osmolalities can be useful markers for determining whether given beverages are suited for maintaining an adequate hydration of the body. Losing 2% of body water relative to body mass reduces the efficiency of body function when undertaking physical effort by around 20%. Deficiencies in water intakes approaching 5-8% of body mass, double the impairment to the body’s physical and mental functioning, whereas at a level of 10% the body becomes incapable of performing any sort of physical effort. For such reasons the body’s hydration status is vital to its functioning.

Objectives: To asses osmolalities as measured in various types of commercially available mineral waters and non-alcoholic beverages containing different amounts of extracts.

Materials and methods: Test materials were commercially available mineral waters (of low, medium and high mineral content) along with juices, nectars and drinks that are isotonic, energising and those described as being ‘light’ and sparkling. Osmolality was measured by the 800CL Osmometer instrument from TridentMed whilst the RL-type refractometer was used for determining extract values.

Results: Isotonic drinks were found to have the same osmotic pressures as bodily fluids at 275 – 295 mOsm/kg water. The osmotic pressure in mineral waters depended on the extent of mineralisation and ranged from 13 mOsm / kg water (low mineral content) to 119 mOsm/kg water (high mineral content). Low osmolalities were also found in ‘light’ drinks (from 29.3 to 34 mOsm/kg water). Juices, nectars, energising drinks and colas typically have high sugar contents and have high osmolalities ranging 492 – 784 mOsm / kg water. Statistical analysis demonstrated significant associations (p < 0.05) between osmolalities and extract content in beverages as well as between osmolalities and mineral content in mineral waters. Upon factor analysis, it was possible to group the tested drinks according to similar osmolalities and extract content.

Conclusions: Osmolalities measured in beverages are a marker that permits drinks to be classified into groups according to their tonicity and their ability to ensure that the body is properly hydrated; this becoming vital in cases when the body requires rapid body fluid replenishment.

MeSH terms

  • Beverages / analysis*
  • Biomarkers
  • Drinking*
  • Humans
  • Mineral Waters / analysis*
  • Osmolar Concentration


  • Biomarkers
  • Mineral Waters