How Much Water Do You Need Daily?
Find out how much water you should be drinking each day, the many health benefits of drinking enough and if you can overdo it.
Water may not be the most exciting beverage out there (iced horchata latte, anyone?), but you literally can’t live without it. So how much do you really need to drink in a day? Well, it depends on a number of variables.
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“Your size, activity, metabolism, location, diet, physical activity and health all factor into how much water you need,” says preventive medicine specialist Roxanne Sukol, MD. But before you throw up your hands in frustration (that’s a lot to consider!), Dr. Sukol explains how you can make sure that you’re adequately hydrated.
The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine recommends that men drink about 3.7 liters (about 125 ounces) a day and women drink 2.7 liters (about 91 ounces). “Those amounts include the water that’s in our food,” says Dr. Sukol. “So it doesn’t mean that you have to drink that many ounces of water. The water in food also counts.”
Dr. Sukol suggests considering these four factors when determining your water needs:
But water needs are also like the stock market, with daily fluctuations that depend on:
Even if you’re not thirsty, don’t assume you’re drinking enough water. Instead, take a peek at your urine. “If it’s almost the color of water, you’re right on track. But if your urine is bright yellow or has a strong odor, then you could probably use more fluids,” notes Dr. Sukol.
Symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration might include:
More severe dehydration constitutes a medical emergency that requires immediate attention, and can include any or all of these as well as:
The human body is 60% water — and our blood is 90% water. “That’s why you need to make sure that you’re drinking enough water. It’s also why people who are too sick to drink can tend to get into further trouble,” explains Dr. Sukol. “In addition to protein, fats and carbohydrates, water is sometimes considered a fourth macronutrient: needed for our body to function optimally.”
For example, water helps your:
There’s also research that water may:
The short answer: yes. But it’s hard to do. “Hyponatremia, or low sodium, can be caused by a number of things, but one of them is when people drink much too much water over a relatively short time period,” says Dr. Sukol. “but it’s pretty unusual that anyone would drink so much water that they would actually hurt themselves. This condition can be quite serious but it is extremely rare.”