- February 8, 2023
As most people know, water is essential for life. The human body is composed of approximately 60% of water by weight. Water aids the body in ridding everyday cellular waste, helps to regulate body temperature, keeps joints healthy, and helps to protect tissue. If the body does not get enough water, it becomes dehydrated, which
As most people know, water is essential for life. The human body is composed of approximately 60% of water by weight. Water aids the body in ridding everyday cellular waste, helps to regulate body temperature, keeps joints healthy, and helps to protect tissue. If the body does not get enough water, it becomes dehydrated, which can cause fatigue, headaches, dizziness, dry mouth and skin, and in extreme cases, death.
The real question is, how much water do we actually need? This sounds like a straightforward question but can actually be a bit complex. It is common knowledge that drinking water is important, but people have wildly different ideas about how much water is necessary. The truth is that the optimal amount of water varies per individual.
Some sources recommend eight glasses per day, while others say 64 ounces. With all the bottles, cups, ounces, and glasses the so-called “experts” recommend, it is no wonder the average person is confused.
The US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends 3.7 liters per day for men and 2.7 liters per day for women, but these are very general guidelines. Water needs vary from person to person and can change under different circumstances. Some factors that can affect water needs for an individual are body size, physical activity, weather and environmental conditions, illness, diet, and for women, pregnancy or breastfeeding.
People that live in hot, humid, or dry areas or areas at high altitude must adjust their water consumption with their level of perspiration. If a person drinks large of amounts of coffee which contains caffeine, a known diuretic, they will likely need more water than a non-coffee drinker. In addition, some diets are high in water-rich foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, so some of a person’s water needs can be met through eating. The season also matters as summer is usually considerably hotter than winter months, thus causes more sweating.
Things such as exercise, illness, pregnancy, and breastfeeding are other factors that need to be considered when determining water needs. Most people likely perspire more when exercising than at rest. Someone that is fighting an infection is vomiting, or has other digestive issues may be losing more water than they are consuming and may need to make a concerted effort to regain optimal fluid levels. Women that are breastfeeding are literally giving their water to their infant, and pregnant women need large amounts of water to produce embryonic fluid and to help their developing baby.
Most authorities suggest using the recommended 3.7 liters for men and 2.7 liters for women as a starting point. Then, increase water consumption based on body size, health, climate, perspiration, and other factors. Do not trust your thirst to determine water needs. Instead, watch for symptoms of dehydration such as fatigue, dry mouth, headaches, and dark urine, and up your water intake if necessary.
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