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How Much Water is Enough?

How Much Water is the Healthy Amount?

There seems to be much debate over how much water we’re supposed to drink. The answer used to be eight glasses (64 oz.) per day, but nowadays the answer isn’t quite so simple.

The 64 oz. per day rule actually has no science behind it. One of the earliest water intake recommendations here in the U.S. was published in 1945, when the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board advised we should drink 10½ glasses (84.5 oz.) of water per day, including water from food. Nowadays, the Food and Nutrition Board’s recommendations vary by age and sex, and look like this:

  • 91 oz. total water (from food and drink) for women
  • 125 oz. total water (from food and drink) for men

Exceptions and Common Sense

But what if I live in a cold climate? Or a hot climate? What if I run or work out really hard? What if I’m pregnant? What if I’m diabetic or have high blood pressure? There are all kinds of personal questions that seem like they might tweak those based recommended amounts.

For anything disease-related or pregnancy related, your doctor will be able to tell you how to adjust your water intake properly. But, disease, pregnancy, and medications aside, the best way to determine your personal water intake needs is through common sense. How much water does your body need in order to be properly hydrated?

Here is a list of early symptoms of dehydration (aside from thirst and chapped lips) to watch for:

  • Dry mouth/bad breath
  • Dark urine/decreased urine output
  • Headache
  • Hunger/overeating
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Feeling tired or sleepy
  • Constipation

Severe symptoms of dehydration include things like:

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Mental confusion
  • Slower wound healing
  • Fever/chills
  • Kidney stones

You Know This! Or Do You?

You’ve been told your whole life that you need to drink enough water, but do you really know how important it is? Your body is about 60% water and your blood is about 90% water. In the big picture of your body, water helps flush waste and impurities from your system through your bladder, bowels, and sweat. In the smaller picture of your body’s cells, water brings nutrients and oxygen to your cells and carries away their waste for disposal.

Water regulates your body temperature, your electrolyte balance, your blood pressure, and your digestion. It even works inside your joints and organs to keep them protected and cushioned.

About 20% of our daily water intake comes from our food. The rest we have to drink. Using the above recommendations for men and women, that leaves about 12.5 cups of water for men to drink and 9 cups of water for women to drink every day.

How are you doing on your water intake? Especially during the colder months of the year with calorie- and sugar-laden foods and drinks available everywhere we turn, make sure you take in plenty of fresh water. Unsweetened tea works well for hydration too, as does water with crushed herb leaves or chunks of fruit in it for flavor. Stay hydrated so your body can run smoothly and let you feel your best.