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How Much Water Should I Drink?

This is one of the most common health questions asked in our society, and it is one with no easy or definite answers. For some time, the universal response was eight cups (consisting of eight fluid ounces) per day. This is the number most individuals recognize and aspire to for their daily water intake.

However, the true amount of water you should drink depends upon several factors, including your gender, age, level of activity, and environment.

Gender: In general, doctors are now recommending that a healthy adult man should drink approximately 13 cups of water per day and a healthy adult woman should drink approximately nine cups per day. These numbers are determined by the average amount of water a person will lose throughout the day through excretions, as well as the amount of water required to facilitate bodily functions.

Women who are nursing or pregnant will need to drink at least 10 to 13 cups of water per day to accommodate for the additional water loss to the baby or fetus.

Age: Young children, as their bodies grow and develop, will need a larger amount of water in proportion to their body weight. As an individual grows older, the need for water intake decreases slightly, but adequate water intake is still just as vital to the body’s functioning. As you grow older, you should take care to drink an appropriate amount of water each day. Your body will become less able to recognize the beginning signs of dehydration and will not send thirst signals to your brain, so you should constantly be aware of the amount of water you drink.

Level of Activity: Your level of activity is one of the greatest indicators of the amount of water you should drink each day. As you exercise, your body will begin to excrete more water through perspiration and require more water for proper replenishment. For a short bout of exercise (less than 30 minutes), one to two extra glasses will replenish your body. If you are exercising for longer periods of time or in warmer climates, you will likely need to drink at least three extra glasses of water per day to replace any liquid lost during the process.

Environment: Your environment also affects the amount of water you should drink. Individuals in warmer climates should drink more water to compensate for liquid lost through perspiration. Individuals who live at high altitudes may also need to drink more water, as the lack of oxygen in the air prompts more rapid breathing and a greater loss of moisture during respiration.

Everyone, regardless of their environment, should drink more water during the summer months, as the heat and extra time spent outside can result in greater liquid loss.

Symptoms of Dehydration

Water is essential for your body to function properly. It flushes toxins out of your organs, carries nutrients throughout the body, and provides a moist environment for sensitive tissues and organs. When your body is not properly hydrated, it will begin to send signals to your brain and produce the following symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Thirst
  • Dry mouth
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fatigue or Lethargy
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
While thirst is always a good indication of the need for water, you should not wait until you are thirsty to drink.

Because thirst is one of the symptoms of dehydration, you may already be slightly dehydrated by the time you are thirsty. While most of the symptoms of dehydration are easily remedied with proper hydration, severe dehydration can be detrimental and even life threatening to the very young and elderly.

How to Stay Hydrated

It is extremely important to keep your body hydrated at all times to avoid dehydration and its resulting health consequences.

A good rule for drinking the right amount of water is to drink one glass with each meal, one glass between each meal, and extra glasses following exercise.

You should also take care to drink a glass of sparkling water or other beverage during social gatherings to supplement your daily intake. While most foods and all beverages contain some water, drinking pure water is generally the best for your body.

Curious about what kind of water you should be drinking? Check out the pages below for more information:

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