Lots of people subscribe to the belief that you should drink at least 8 glasses of water every day. Do you? And is that enough?
How much water should you drink every day?
In reality, it’s a simple question with a not so simple answer.
Why Drink Water to Begin With?
Your body is made up of 60% water. Your blood is actually about 90% water. You can’t survive without it.
That said, it goes beyond surviving. Drinking water helps your body with a whole bunch of really important things! Water:
- Delivers oxygen throughout your body
- Regulates your body temperature
- Hydrates your skin
- Protects your kidneys
- Flushes out waste
- Lubricates your joints
- Improves your digestive system
Remember, your body loses water through sweat, urination, even just through breathing. You need to replace it. In fact, research shows that even mild dehydration (a loss of 1-3% body weight – that’s not a lot!) can decrease brain function and impact mood and concentration.
And sure, you get some water from certain foods, but drinking it is the best source.
How Much Water Should You Drink?
It’s easy to say 8 is the magic number, but there’s actually no universally agreed upon amount.
The actual amount of water you need to drink each day depends on many factors, including your health, how active you are and where you call home.
There are some general recommendations though.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention suggest drinking approximately 3.7 liters for men and 2.7 liters for women. This is overall fluid intake per day, so it includes the water you drink plus the food you eat with water in it.
So, their recommendations are:
- Men = 13 cups
- Women = 9 cups
What about kids? The guidelines are based on age, and are:
- 4-8 years = 5 cups
- 9-13 years = 7-8 cups
- 14-18 years = 8-11 cups
That said, there are times when you should drink even more! Here’s when you should up that water intake:
- It’s really hot out (and you’re sweating more than usual)
- You have a fever
- You have diarrhea and/or vomiting (these can cause dehydration)
- You’re pregnant or breastfeeding
- You’re doing any type of physical activity (when you sweat a lot)
Can You Drink too Much Water?
Is it possible to overdo it? Yep.
How much is too much? About 27-33 ounces per hour. That’s about 3-4 cups.
It can actually lead to something called hyponatremia, or water intoxication. This means you’re taking in more water that your body can get rid of. This condition can cause the level of sodium in your blood to drop too low, leading to fatigue, vomiting, confusion, headaches, and sometimes death.
There are a few easy-to-spot signs that you’re drinking too much water. If you’re peeing all the time, your urine is clear, or your hands and feet are swollen, you may just be over-indulging.
So, as with anything else in life, everything in moderation, even water. Drink up (but not too much!).