Essential for our survival, water helps our bodies function at optimal levels. But, how much do you really need? Despite an abundance of opinions, there’s no one-size-fits-all suggestion for everyone. To make sure you stay hydrated, consider the following.
Why We Need Water
The body’s principal chemical component, water, regulates our body temperature, while helping to eliminate waste through perspiration, urination and bowel movements. It also cushions and lubricates joints, while protecting sensitive tissues. If we don’t get enough water, we become dehydrated to the point where our organs begin to fail. Even mild dehydration can cause serious problems, including fatigue and heat exhaustion. In turn, it’s important to get an adequate amount of water every day.
How Much Is Enough?
You may have heard that you should drink eight glasses of water every day. In reality, people need different amounts of water based on their individual age, health, size and level of activity. If a person lives in a warm climate, he or she will also need more water.
According to recommendations from The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, most healthy men need at least 15.5 cups of fluid per day, while most healthy women need about 11.5 cups. It’s important to remember, however, that these recommendations cover fluids from beverages and foods, such as soups and fruits.
How Much Should You Drink?
Most healthy people can meet their hydration needs by drinking water when they feel thirsty. That said, if you exercise frequently or work in a hot environment, you should watch closely for signs of dehydration. These include dark-colored urine, dry mouth, fatigue, a lack of sweat, headache or dizziness.
It’s also important to know that drinking too much water can lead to serious health issues by diluting the amount of sodium in your body. For this reason, it’s not a good idea to force yourself to drink large amounts of water as part of a diet or detoxifying regimen.