BIOL 301 6382 Why shouldn’t you drink seawater?

BIOL 301 6382 Why shouldn’t you drink seawater?

BIOL 301 6382 Why shouldn’t you drink seawater?

Effects of Sea Water

Drinking seawater is not advisable because it can have fatal consequences. The sea water is highly saline, with a salt concentration of 35g in every liter of seawater. When one drinks salty water from the sea, it is absorbed in the blood. When the blood becomes too salty, the kidney attempts to remove the excess salt, but the process requires even more fresh water to eliminate the salt (Agócs et al., 2020). This is possible because the cell membrane is semipermeable, allowing water to move through osmosis from the inside of the cell, which is a hypotonic solution to the outside of the cell (hypertonic solution) to correct the imbalance. When a balance occurs, the concentration becomes isotonic.

As the body attempts to eliminate the excess salt consumed through seawater, the kidney enters the override mode as it has to overwork to correct the system by inducing urination (Cappuccio et al., 2022). Because urination requires excreting more water than one has consumed, it leads to extreme thirst that can cause dehydration and, in severe cases, death. One of the consequences of high salt concentration is high blood pressure because the increase in blood volume causes the heart to pump harder than usual (Choi, Park, & Lee, 2020). In turn, high blood pressure causes a risk of stroke and heart attack. The second effect is calcium loss which occurs through urination, which is induced to make the body release excess salt. The situation can lead to weakened bones and the risk of osteoporosis. Additionally, loss of calcium can also cause kidney stones.



Agócs, R., Sugár, D., & Szabó, A. (2020). Is too much salt harmful? Yes. Pediatr Nephrol, 35(9):1777-1785. https://www.doi.10.1007/s00467-019-04387-4.

Cappuccio, F., Campbell, N., & He, F. (2022). Sodium and Health: Old Myths and a Controversy Based on Denial. Curr Nutr Rep, 11, 172–184.

Choi, J. W., Park, J.-S., & Lee, C. (2020). Interactive effect of high sodium intake with increased serum triglycerides on hypertension. PlosOne,

As we already know the human body is made up of a multitude of different organisms, cells and organs. There are

BIOL 301 6382 Why shouldn't you drink seawater
BIOL 301 6382 Why shouldn’t you drink seawater

many things that our bodies need to survive one of them being water, but when it comes to sea water that is something that we should stay away from in high concentrations.(Anderson, G. & Martin, R. 2003) When a human consumes sea water in large amounts the process of diffusion takes place due to the fact that higher concentrations of salinity are transported into a region of lower concentration (the body). Sea water has a salinity of about 4 times the amount than our bodily fluids have, when consuming sea water water from the inside of our cells moves to the outside of the cells to correct any imbalance due to the higher salt concentration from sea water. The process of moving this water in attempts to equalize salt concentrations both inside and outside of the cell is called osmosis, this process would not work without the semipermeable membrane which is the key membrane that is responsible for this transfer of water.(Janna, H., et al. 2016) With sea water having such a high salinity concentration compared to the body the cells releasing water to equalize the concentrations cause the cells themselves to shrink. After consuming sea water and cells do all they can to avoid further damage, the organs then become affected, the kidneys being one of the main organs to begin having problems. The kidneys are the organ that produce urine that is less salty than seawater, when large amounts of sodium is present in the body we begin to urinate more water than is in our bodies and then dehydration begins to kick in. When drinking sea water there is more salt than water which results in lack of bodily fluids, cramping of the muscles and thirst. (Wedro, B & Stoppler,M. 2021) The body then begins to go into a state in which it compensates for all the fluids that are lost by increasing heart rate and constricts the blood vessels to maintain proper blood flow to vital organs in the human body. Without rehydrating and drinking fresh water dehydration takes its toll and the intake of excessive sodium causes the brain and vital organs to receive less blood which can lead to organ failure and possibly death.


Janna, H., Abbas, M., Mojid, M. 2016. Demineralized Drinking Water in Local Reverse Osmosis Water Treatment Stations and the Potential Effect on Human Health. Journal of Geoscience and Environment Protection4, 104-110. doi:10.4236/gep.2016.42012.

Wedro, B., Stoppler, M. 2021. Deyhdration in Adults and Children.

Anderson, G., Martin, R. 2003. Marine Science.Seawater Composition.

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While Amy may have wanted to drink seawater, the salinity of seawater is typically around 35 g/kg or 3.5% of water would be salt in weight. Unfortunately, our bodies are unable to consume water with such a high salinity, due to the natural balance of water in our bodies. From the textbook Anatomy and Physiology, osmosis is defined as the difussion of water across a membrane to maintain homeostasis, or a balance between the cell and its solution. To exist in relative balance is considered to be isotonic, whereas hypertonic is where water rushes out of the cell, and hypertonic is where water rushes in. The textbook states “Various organ systems, particularly the kidneys, work to maintain this homeostasis,” reffering to how our cells work against changes in salinity and water concentration to stay in an isotonic state (Betts et al. 2022). If Amy were to consume seawater, the ammount of salt in the water would cause her stomach cells to enter a hypertonic state, pushing the water out of her digestive system. Therefore she should avoid drinking seawater because it will have the opposite effect of restoring water in her body.


Betts, G. (2022). The Cellular Level of Organization. In K. Young (Ed.), Anatomy and Physiology (pp. 87–130). essay, OpenStax.