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Health Care

By: Lisa Carpenter

Most parents realize how important it is for kids to drink plenty of water. But how do parents make that happen when children are bombarded each day with sugary choices like juice, soda, and chocolate milk? Dr. Maoshing Ni (Dr. Mao), a wellness expert, author of several best-selling health books, and one of Yahoo Health's medical contributors, has teamed up with Aquasana to provide parents tips on getting kids to drink more water and help them form healthy water consumption habits at an early age.

waterQ: Why is drinking water so important for school-age kids?
DR. MAO: Water keeps our internal systems running properly, which is particularly important for kids because their bodies are still growing. Drinking water also helps kids perform better in school. Without enough water, kids can become dehydrated, which can lead to headaches, irritability, lack of concentration and sleepiness, all of which impact a child's mental and physical performance at school.

Q: How much water do my kids need to drink every day?
DR. MAO: A common myth is that kids need less water than adults because they're smaller. Kids need to drink as much or more water than adults do because they're growing and at greater risk of dehydration. Kids should drink at least eight to 10 glasses of water per day.

Q: My kids HATE the taste of water! How can I get them to drink it more?
DR. MAO: What your kids are reacting to is the aftertaste that comes from the chemical traces in tap water. Filtering your water is the first step to getting them to drink more water. Another great trick is to add fresh slices of orange, watermelon, honeydew melon or another fruit to water.

Q: How can I get my kids to drink water while they're at school?
DR. MAO: Send your kids to school each day with a water bottle filled with ice-cold, filtered, fruit-infused water. Also, take the time to educate your kids about the role water plays in their performance at school. Every kid wants to have an edge, especially in sports.

Q: What about plain old tap water? Isn't that good enough?
DR. MAO: Studies show that even the best tap water has toxins in it that give water a chemical aftertaste and present short- and long-term health risks. That is actually the reason why the President's Cancer Panel came out with a recommendation in May that American families install water filters in their homes.

Q: What about bottled water?
I don't recommend it generally. Not only are plastic bottles a huge pollution issue, but 60 to 70 percent of all bottled water is exempt from the FDA's bottled water standards, so you can't be sure about the quality of the bottled water you're drinking. Bottled water is also very expensive - 90 percent of the cost is in the plastic bottle - making it economically impractical for most American families.

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