Your body weight is made up of 60 percent water, so water is essential in your body's functions. You've probably heard time and time again that we need to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. However, your fluid intake depends on a multitude of factors including your health, age, gender, and activity level. Therefore, the outdated rule of drinking 8 glasses a day doesn't fit everyone. Considering that, how much water should you really be drinking?

How Much Water Do You Need?

man and woman drinking water

Adults

IOM recommends that people ages 19 and older get around 3.7 liters of water a day. This is your overall fluid intake, including anything you drink and eat that contains water, like fruits and vegetables. Specifically, men should drink 13 cups of water and women should drink 9 cups. Though, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should drink a little more. Pregnant women should drink 80 ounces of water a day while women who are breastfeeding should aim for 104 ounces a day.

Children

The daily amount of water a child should get depends on age, weight, and gender. However, the overall water daily requirements for children are as follows: girls and boys from 4 to 8 years old should get 5 cups of water a day, girls ages 9 to 13 years should get 7 cups, while boys of the same age should drink 8 cups a day. Finally, girls from 14 to 18 years old should consume 8 total cups of water a day and for boys, 11 cups a day.

What Factors Influence Water Intake?

Exercise

man jogging

It's obvious that if you sweat that you should replace the lost fluid. The more you sweat, the more water you should drink. To avoid dehydration, it's crucial to drink water before, during and after a workout. It is recommended that you drink an extra 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups of water each day if you exercise. To add, if your workout is intense or lasts more than an hour, you may want to reach for a sports drink with electrolytes.

Health

When you have a fever, diarrhea, or vomiting, your body loses fluids. Therefore, it is important to more consume water when you're sick. If you can, get your hands on electrolyte-based drinks. Another ailment that requires an increased intake of water is a urinary tract infection (UTI).

Environment

hot climate

If you live in a hot or humid climate, chances are you sweat a lot. Hence, it is important to drink water to stay hydrated. In addition, locations with high altitudes can cause dehydration. To explain, at an elevation greater than 8,200 feet above sea level you lose more fluids. According to the Institute for Altitude Medicine, you should drink an extra 1 to 1 1/2 liters of water a day when at a higher altitude.

Benefits Of Drinking Water

Your body needs water to survive. Water is needed for every system of your body to function properly. For example, drinking water keeps your body temperature normal, lubricates and cushions your joints, protects your spine and other tissues, and helps eliminates waste through urine, bowel movements, and sweat.

You've probably heard that the secret to glowing skin is to drink more water. This beauty tip isn't a myth, it actually works! Skin is your body's largest organ, and when you consume enough water you keep it healthy and hydrated. The key to supple and glowing skin is H20.

Signs Of Dehydration

As discussed, your body is constantly losing fluids. If you don't replenish your water stores you run the risk of dehydration. Dehydration occurs when you lose more water than you take in. The symptoms of dehydration can be mild or severe, depending on the amount of water lost. The symptoms include extreme thirst, brain fog, mood changes, constipation, overheating, kidney stones, and shock. While mild dehydration can be treated by drinking more water, severe dehydration requires a hospital visit.

Signs Of Overhydration

With much talk of drinking enough water, it IS possible to get too much. Drinking too much water can be just as dangerous as not getting enough. The excess water can dilute the electrolytes in your blood and decrease your sodium levels. The term for overhydration is actually hyponatremia. The symptoms of hyponatremia include headache, confusion, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, irritability, muscle cramps, seizures, and even coma. Though hyponatremia is uncommon, it can happen in people who drink large amounts of water in a short period of time like marathon runners or athletes.

Ways To Stay Hydrated

Drinking water isn't the only way to hydrate. Did you know you can eat your water? There are many fruits and vegetables that have a high water content. Some of them include watermelon, cucumber, pineapples, zucchinis, strawberries, and cantaloupe. Additionally, if you want to make your plain water a little fancy, toss in some sliced cucumbers to increase its hydration power.

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