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How Much Water Should I Drink?

Last Updated on: June 16, 2022

 

The Need for Water 

The human body is completely reliant upon water in order to perform its daily functions. Water makes up anywhere from 50% to 70% of your body weight. Without water, the average person would die in three days. (1)

People naturally lose water every day through breathing, sweat, urination, and bowel movements. People lose even more water in times of illness.

Because the body constantly loses water, you must take in enough on a daily basis  to keep the body in balance. The United States National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine makes recommendations regarding how much water a person should consume  every day. A man needs about 15.5 cups of fluids every day while a woman needs 11.5 cups of water every day. This recommendation includes the water content in foods and other drinks. Surprisingly, almost 20% of your daily water intake comes from the foods you eat. (2)

The best way to stay hydrated is to drink water any time you feel thirsty. Your body knows what you need and will tell you in the form of thirst. If you rarely feel thirsty, and your urine appears light yellow or even colorless, you are most likely drinking enough water.

The need for water varies based on an individual. Their health,  physical activity level,  location, and age all play a role in determining how much water a person should drink. Here we will describe how different factors affect each person’s need for increased water intake. 

 

Activity Level

The more active you are, the more water you will lose through sweat. The body knows this and will make you feel thirsty, to remind you to drink extra water to compensate for what you have lost. 

The American Council on Exercise recommends drinking two and a half cups of water hours before working out, one cup a half hour before working out, and a cup to a cup and a fourth of water every 10 to 20 minutes while exercising. They also recommend a person drink another full cup post workout.

These recommendations of course can vary based on a person’s weight, and how hard they are exercising. (3)

Hard physical work will also require people to drink more water. Those working physically demanding  jobs will need more water than the average person with a desk job or a less active occupation.

Where You Are

Your location plays a huge role in how much water you need to drink every day. In higher elevations, especially 5,000 feet above sea level, the body works harder just to perform basic functions. Higher elevations have less oxygen in the air requiring your body to work harder than it normally would to breathe. You lose water through breathing and so naturally, breathing more or breathing heavier will cause you to lose water more quickly than normal.

The Wilderness Medical Society says high altitudes can make your body lose water twice as fast as when you are at sea level. The high altitude will cause you to need to drink more with some groups recommending you consume an extra 4 to 6 cups a day. (4)

Living in hot climates will also increase your need for extra water. In a hot climate you will sweat more and lose more water through your skin. You need to replace this water to avoid dehydration.

This is also why people often need to drink more water in the summer when temperatures skyrocket and you sweat more than you would on a wintery day.

Sickness

When sick, the body usually expels extra water. Diarrhea and vomiting will empty your body of water very quickly. A runny nose can also decrease the amount of water in your body. Fevers can dehydrate you as your body stays at hotter temperatures than it normally would. Most doctors will recommend their patients drink plenty of fluid when sick to combat these effects. 

Though there are no specific ways to tell how much water you are losing, (be honest, who really wants to take the time to measure) you should at least try and replace everything you lose.

Dehydration can make sicknesses far worse. Sick people often lose their appetites and energy and therefore they do not eat or drink enough. Water can carry medicines through the body and help you heal. With less water and when in a state of dehydration, the body will not recover from illness as quickly as it would had you drank enough water. (5)

Age

Age plays a somewhat significant role in the need for water. Before we explained how people intake significant amounts of water through eating foods, however, these totals are based on how much water a person should intake through drinking. (6)

  1. Children ages 4-8 should drink 5 cups a day.
  2. Children 9-13 should drink 7-8 cups.
  3. Teens 14-18 should drink 8 to 11 cups.
  4. Male adults should drink 13 cups.
  5. Adult women should drink 9 cups.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

A pregnant woman will need more water daily than the average woman. Even from the very beginning of pregnancy, hormonal and physical changes in the body alter the way the body and its systems all work. Water normally helps the body absorb nutrients and transport vitamins and during pregnancy, it now does that for two. Not only does the body provide you with the necessities of life, it also provides the growing fetus with nutrients necessary for growth and development. 

A pregnant woman will have more waste to take out of the body than ever before. She needs water to flush out unwanted products and keep the kidneys clean and toxin free.

Drinking extra water while pregnant can also combat many of the pregnancy symptoms women hate. Pregnant women commonly experience constipation, urinary tract infections, and hemorrhoids. Extra water can prevent these issues. Pregnant women, especially in the last trimester, will overheat easily because of their condition. Drinking water and staying as hydrated as possible will help expectant mothers to not overheat. Water can also fight pregnancy fatigue, helping expectant mothers feel the energy they need to keep working through the day. (7)

Once the mother has had the baby and starts breastfeeding, she needs to keep up the increased amount of water in her body. One of the main components of breastmilk is water, along with proteins, carbs, fats, and other nutrients. A nursing mother needs up to 16 cups of water per day because she drinks water for two people now, not just herself. One group recommended a nursing mother drink a large glass of water each time they breastfeed their baby. (8)

A Word of Caution

While we have discussed the importance of getting enough water, people can possibly drink too much.

This rarely occurs in healthy adults, but it has been known to happen. When you drink too much water your kidneys cannot rid themselves of the excess fast enough. Your blood becomes diluted and reduces the sodium levels in the body. This causes a condition known as hyponatremia.  

Hyponatremia can cause fatigue, headaches, nausea, and in very severe cases it can cause death. (9, 10)

Stay Hydrated

When it comes to water, listen to your body and when you feel thirsty. Drink the recommended amounts for adults and then drink more if you are affected by the factors described above. Staying hydrated is the best way to keep your body as healthy as possible.

Choose hydrogen water whenever possible. It is clean, safe, and full of helpful antioxidants. Drinking hydrogen water made by Synergy Science™ water machines is the best way to stay hydrated and keep the body functioning as it should.

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