How Much Water Do You Need?

Alli Walsh, Social Media Strategist

How Much Water Do You Need?

For the last several years, it seems the answer to so many ailments is “Drink more water!” And while it’s certainly not a cure all, proper hydration is a wellness baseline that helps all the systems in our bodies function properly. Composed of over 60 percent water, the body contains water inside cells, outside cells and in the blood, and as we age and trade muscle for fat, this number decreases.1 Infants’ bodies are composed of 75 percent water, and by the time we reach old age, that number drops to 50 percent.2

Where you get it.

On average, humans get 80 percent of their fluid from beverages and 20 percent from the food they eat.3 All liquid beverages count, but limit alcoholic ones because of their diuretic properties. Fruits and veggies are top food-fluid contributors – some, like watermelon and spinach, are made up of nearly 90 percent water.4

What happens if you don’t.

Water and fluid intake helps maintain body temperature, lubricates joints, protects your spine and facilitates the elimination of bodily waste – all critical components of wellness.5 If your body doesn’t get the fluid it needs to function, dehydration can set in. Signs of dehydration vary between children and adults:

Dehydration in infants or children6:

  • Dry mouth and tongue
  • No tears when crying
  • No wet diapers for three hours
  • Sunken eyes, cheeks
  • Sunken soft spot on top of skull
  • Listlessness or irritability

Dehydration in adults7:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Less frequent urination
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion

The first line of defense against or recovery from mild symptoms is to increase fluid intake until you’re feeling better. More serious symptoms, like profound fatigue or sleepiness, diarrhea for more than 24 hours or the inability to keep fluids down warrant urgent medical attention.8

How much you need.

The Institute of Medicine suggests an adequate intake of fluid consumption for men of 3.7 liters a day and for women of around 2.7 liters.9 However, this recommendation is a rough estimate, as individual needs vary by gender, weight, muscle mass, pregnancy and exercise levels.10 Depending on your lifestyle, you may need more or less.

So, why the variation from the eight glasses a day advice we’ve heard for so long? The recommendations are actually very similar in quantity and eight glasses a day is simple to remember. Keep it in mind as you go through the day, drinking water at each meal and before and after exercise.11 Beyond that, listen to your body and drink when you’re thirsty—enough so your urine remains pale yellow. This should help you get the right amount of water for your individual needs.12

 

References:

1, 2  "How much water is in the human body." Http://www.nestle-waters.com. Nestle Waters, n.d. Web. 06 Aug. 2017.

3, 9 "Dietary Reference Intakes: Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate." National Academies Press. National Academies of Science Engineering Medicine, 19 Aug. 2015. Web. 06 Aug. 2017.

4, 10, 11, 12 "How much water do you really need every day?" Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 05 Sept. 2014. Web. 06 Aug. 2017.

5 Marcin, Ashley. "How much water you need to drink." Medical News Today. MediLexicon International, 26 July 2017. Web. 06 Aug. 2017.

6, 7, 8 "Dehydration." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 29 Oct. 2016. Web. 06 Aug. 2017.

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