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How Much Water Should You Be Drinking?

How Much Water Should You Be Drinking?

by Stefanie Rekdal, BS, RDN, CDCES, CPT

Whether or not the weather reflects the season, any time is a good time to assess your hydration habits. Let’s take a look at the health benefits of adequate hydration.

You can think about water the way you think of air in your car’s tires. If your tires are slightly underinflated, your car will still move, but the ride may be bumpy. Adequate hydration is critical for transporting nutrients, oxygen, and waste products from one part of your body to another. Fluids regulate your body temperature, lubricate your joints, and moisten tissues in your eyes, nose, and mouth. Dehydration also causes fatigue, dizziness, and irritability. A fluid loss of as little as one to two percent (a mere one and a half to two pounds in a 150 pound person) can negatively impact how you feel.

So, how much water should you drink each day? What seems like a pretty straightforward question doesn’t actually have an easy answer. Many factors, including climate, health status, and activity level, impact your body’s unique fluid needs. The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is:

  • About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day for men
  • About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women

This recommendation includes fluid from water, other beverages, and food. Did you know that cucumbers are made up of 96% water? The following foods are also made up of more than 90% water: lettuce, tomatoes, strawberries, celery, zucchini, and watermelon.

The bottom line is that you are probably meeting your fluid needs if you rarely feel thirsty and have pale-colored urine. Eating a well-balanced diet and drinking when thirsty are relatively easy ways to keep your body running like a well-oiled (or a well-hydrated) machine.


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