(NBC News) — Adults who aren’t sufficiently hydrated may age faster, face a higher risk of chronic diseases and be more likely to die younger than those who stay well-hydrated, according to a new study from the National Institutes of Health.

The results, published Monday, are based on data collected over 25 years from more than 11,000 adults in the U.S. The participants attended their first medical visits at ages 45 to 66, then returned for follow-ups through at ages 70 to 90.

The researchers looked at levels of sodium in the participants’ blood as a proxy for hydration, because higher concentrations are a sign that they most likely weren’t consuming enough fluids. The researchers found that the participants with high blood-sodium levels aged faster physiologically than those with lower levels, which was reflected in health markers associated with aging, like high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar.

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