What's the Deal With Drinking Water?
Why so Important?
How Much Do I Drink Each Day?
According to the medical staff at the Mayo Clinic, unfortunately there is no quick and easy answer to how much water a person should drink each day. Research studies over the years have delivered all sorts of answers to this question, but actually, doctors say your water needs depend on several variables including your current health/medical condition, how active you are and even the environment where you live and work.
Medical experts explain that water makes up approximately 60 percent of your body weight and every system in your body needs water in order to function properly. Water is essential for proper blood flow. Water flushes toxins from your liver, kidneys and instestines. Water delivers important nutrients to cells. Water keeps skin, ears, eyes, mouth and throat with appropriate levels of hydration to function.
If you are not getting enough water each day you may experience dehydration. Dehydration can be a serious condition that can cause headaches, lethargy, and much more serious medical issues.
When you breathe, sweat, urinate and produce bowel movements, your body is releasing water. In order for your body to function properly, it is critical you ensure your body has ample water intake every day.
The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake (AI) for men living in a temperate climate with normal levels of activity is roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups or 102 ounces ) of total beverages a day. The AI for women is 2.2 liters (about 9 cups or 75 ounces ) of water intake each day.
Everyone has heard the advice, "Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day." This actually is not backed by research but the "8 by 8" rule remains popular because it's easy to remember. Just keep in mind that the rule should be reframed as: "Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid a day," because all fluids count toward the daily total.
Mayo Clinic Staff tell us that you need to consider how active you are, how dry or humid is the climate in which you live and what are your personal, current health issues in order to adjust the amount of fluids you are taking in. Here are specific recommendations made by the medical staff at the Mayo Clinic. As always, please consult with YOUR medical practitioner to receive recommendations that are best for YOUR body and your personal situation!
- Physical Activity: If you are exercising, dancing, doing a job that requires a lot of activity that makes you sweat, you will need to drink extra water to compensate for the fluid loss. An additional 1.5 to 2.5 cups or 12 to 20 extra ounces) of water should be enough for relatively normal workouts or short activities, but if you are participating in more intense activities lasting more than an hour you will need even more fluid intake. If you are running a marathon or something of that level of intensity and duration, medical doctors recommend you use a sports drink that contains sodium to help replace what is lost during sweating in order to ensure electrolytes stay in balance. It's important to replace fluids after you're finished exercising as well.
- Environment: Hot or humid weather can make you sweat and requires additional intake of fluid. Heated indoor air also can cause your skin to lose moisture during wintertime. Further, altitudes greater than 8,200 feet (2,500 meters) may trigger increased urination and more rapid breathing, which use up more of your fluid reserves.
- Health issues: When you have fever, vomiting or diarrhea, your body loses additional fluids. In these cases, you should drink more water. In some cases, your doctor may recommend oral re-hydration solutions. Also, you may need increased fluid intake if you develop certain conditions, including bladder infections or urinary tract stones. On the other hand, some conditions such as heart failure and some types of kidney, liver and adrenal diseases may impair excretion of water and even require that you limit your fluid intake. So PLEASE consult with YOUR medical practitioner on what is best for your health conditions.
Believe it or not, what you eat CAN provide a portion of your daily fluid needs. Nutritionists report that on average, food provides about 20 percent of total water intake. For example, many fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon, cucumbers and tomatoes, are 90 percent or more water by weight.
Even though other beverages such as milk and juice are composed mostly of water, good ole water is still your best bet. It's calorie-free, budget-friendly and readily available.
Generally if you drink enough fluid so that you urinate fully a colorless or light yellow urine 6-10 times/a day, your fluid intake is probably adequate. If you're concerned about your fluid intake or have health issues, check with your doctor or a registered dietitian. He or she can help you determine the amount of water that's right for you.
To ward off dehydration and make sure your body has the fluids it needs, make water your beverage of choice. It's also a good idea to:
- Drink a glass of water or other calorie-free or low-calorie beverage with each meal and between each meal.
- Drink water before, during and after exercise.
Although uncommon, it is possible to drink too much water and can cause a dangerous medical condition.
If you have any questions about how much water YOUR body needs, please see your doctor or a registered dietitian or nutritionist.