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How much water should you drink daily?
Water: How much should you drink every day?

Water is essential to good health, yet needs vary by individual. These guidelines
can help ensure you drink enough fluids.
By Mayo Clinic staff

How much water should you drink each day? It's a simple question with no easy
answers. Studies have produced varying recommendations over the years, but in
truth, your water needs depend on many factors, including your health, how active
you are and where you live.

Although no single formula fits everyone, knowing more about your body's need for
fluids will help you estimate how much water to drink each day.

Water is your body's principal chemical component and makes up about 60 percent
of your body weight. Every system in your body depends on water. For example,
water flushes toxins out of vital organs, carries nutrients to your cells and
provides a moist environment for ear, nose and throat tissues.

Lack of water can lead to dehydration, a condition that occurs when you don't have
enough water in your body to carry out normal functions. Even mild dehydration
can drain your energy and make you tired.

Every day you lose water through your breath, perspiration, urine and bowel
movements. For your body to function properly, you must replenish its water
supply by consuming beverages and foods that contain water.

So how much fluid does the average, healthy adult living in a temperate climate
need? The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake (AI) for men is
roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day. The AI for women is 2.2
liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day.

What about the advice to drink eight glasses a day?
Everyone has heard the advice, "Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day."
That's about 1.9 liters, which isn't that different from the Institute of Medicine
recommendations. Although the "8 by 8" rule isn't supported by hard evidence, it
remains popular because it's easy to remember. Just keep in mind that the rule
should be reframed as: "Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid a day,"
because all fluids count toward the daily total.

Factors that influence water needs

You may need to modify your total fluid intake depending on how active you are,
the climate you live in, your health status, and if you're pregnant or breast-feeding.

Exercise. If you exercise or engage in any activity that makes you sweat, you need
to drink extra water to compensate for the fluid loss. An extra 400 to 600 milliliters
(about 1.5 to 2.5 cups) of water should suffice for short bouts of exercise, but
intense exercise lasting more than an hour (for example, running a marathon)
requires more fluid intake. How much additional fluid you need depends on how
much you sweat during exercise, and the duration and type of exercise. During
long bouts of intense exercise, it's best to use a sports drink that contains sodium,
as this will help replace sodium lost in sweat and reduce the chances of
developing hyponatremia, which can be life-threatening. Also, continue to replace
fluids after you're finished exercising.Environment. Hot or humid weather can make
you sweat and requires additional intake of fluid. Heated indoor air also can cause
your skin to lose moisture during wintertime. Further, altitudes greater than 8,200
feet (2,500 meters) may trigger increased urination and more rapid breathing,
which use up more of your fluid reserves.Illnesses or health conditions. When you
have fever, vomiting or diarrhea, your body loses additional fluids. In these cases,
you should drink more water. In some cases, your doctor may recommend oral
rehydration solutions, such as Gatorade, Powerade or CeraLyte. Also, you may
need increased fluid intake if you develop certain conditions, including bladder
infections or urinary tract stones. On the other hand, some conditions such as
heart failure and some types of kidney, liver and adrenal diseases may impair
excretion of water and even require that you limit your fluid intake.Pregnancy or
breast-feeding. Women who are expecting or breast-feeding need additional fluids
to stay hydrated. Large amounts of fluid are used especially when nursing. The
Institute of Medicine recommends that pregnant women drink 2.3 liters (about 10
cups) of fluids daily and women who breast-feed consume 3.1 liters (about 13 cups)
of fluids a day.Beyond the tap: Other sources of water
Although it's a great idea to keep water within reach at all times, you don't need to
rely only on what you drink to meet your fluid needs. What you eat also provides a
significant portion of your fluid needs. On average, food provides about 20 percent
of total water intake. For example, many fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon
and tomatoes, are 90 percent or more water by weight.

In addition, beverages such as milk and juice are composed mostly of water. Even
beer, wine and caffeinated beverages — such as coffee, tea or soda — can
contribute, but these should not be a major portion of your daily total fluid intake.
Water is still your best bet because it's calorie-free, inexpensive and readily

Staying safely hydrated
Generally if you drink enough fluid so that you rarely feel thirsty and produce 1.5
liters (6.3 cups) or more of colorless or light yellow urine a day, your fluid intake is
probably adequate. If you're concerned about your fluid intake or have health
issues, check with your doctor or a registered dietitian. He or she can help you
determine the amount of water that's right for you.

To ward off dehydration and make sure your body has the fluids it needs, make
water your beverage of choice. It's also a good idea to:

Drink a glass of water or other calorie-free or low-calorie beverage with each meal
and between each meal.
Drink water before, during and after exercise.
Although uncommon, it is possible to drink too much water. When your kidneys are
unable to excrete the excess water, the electrolyte (mineral) content of the blood
is diluted, resulting in low sodium levels in the blood, a condition called
hyponatremia. Endurance athletes, such as marathon runners, who drink large
amounts of water, are at higher risk of hyponatremia. In general, though, drinking
too much water is rare in healthy adults who eat an average American diet.