Amount of Water to Drink Per Day
How much water should you drink daily? Let's take a look how the amount you need to drink and the signs you might be dehydrated.
8 Signs of Dehydration
Dehydration occurs when the body loses more fluids than it takes in, and it can have serious health consequences if left untreated. Here are 8 signs of dehydration to look out for:
- Thirst: Feeling thirsty is the body's way of signaling that it needs more water.
- Dark urine: Urine that is dark yellow or amber is a sign that the body is dehydrated.
- Dry mouth and throat: When the body is dehydrated, it produces less saliva, leading to a dry mouth and throat.
- Fatigue: Dehydration can cause feelings of tiredness and low energy levels.
- Dizziness and lightheadedness: When the body is dehydrated, blood pressure can drop, leading to feelings of dizziness or lightheadedness.
- Headaches: Dehydration can cause headaches, especially if the body is also low on electrolytes like sodium and potassium.
- Muscle cramps: When the body is dehydrated, muscles can become more prone to cramping and spasms.
- Sunken eyes: In severe cases of dehydration, the eyes may appear sunken due to a lack of fluids in the body.
How Much Should I Drink?
Ask your healthcare provider for specific recommendations. Health experts often recommend that adults consume a minimum of six to eight glasses of water daily.
I recommend that you drink an amount of water measured in ounces, equal to half of your weight in pounds each day. For example, if you weigh 140 pounds, you should aim to drink 70 ounces of water each day.
Does It Have to Be Water?
Water is best. It is calorie-free and is the liquid portion of a beverage that your body needs.
- Fresh fruit and vegetable juices are healthy and contain healthy fiber, enzymes, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants when prepared immediately before consumption; however, I view them more as meal substitutes than as alternatives to water.
- Commercial juices are often juice drinks that contain minimal benefits of fresh juices. Plus they may contain high amounts of sugars, artificial colorings, and other deleterious ingredients.
- Dairy and dairy substitutes can be nutritious. Read labels carefully so that you may avoid artificial hormones. Many milk substitutes may be tasty but are not particularly nutritious. Consuming dairy or milk substitutes too much can add to excess pounds.
- Alcoholic beverages and caffeine-containing drinks have diuretic properties which dry out the body. The same holds for soft drinks. Beverages with high concentrations of natural or artificial sweeteners may increase thirst.
- Flavored waters can be expensive and may or may not contain ingredients that are not natural. Rather than obtaining vitamins and other nutrients from flavored waters, seek to obtain them from healthy foods and supplements.
- Herb teas are available options for some of your water intake. They provide flavor and other health benefits without empty calories.
- Distilled water has had minerals removed, so I do not recommend its use. Natural spring water is best. You do not need to purchase bottled water unless your local source is not palatable or if it comes from a municipality that adds compounds, such as fluorine, which you wish to avoid. Avoid consuming serving-sized water from plastic containers regularly as excess plastic reliance is not healthy for your health or that of the environment.
- Sports drinks can be beneficial during times of exercise, illness, or excess heat as they contain beneficial electrolytes.
Water and Exercise
Drink plenty of water if you are engaging in vigorous activity, especially if it is hot out. When the weather is hot, drink extra fluids even if you are relaxing.
Elders, people who have health issues, and children must consume extra fluids when exercising or during hot weather as they dehydrate and become overheated faster than healthy adults. Overheating can lead to potentially fatal sunstroke.
Causes of Dehydration
The most obvious cause of dehydration is not consuming enough liquid. Another factor is fluid loss. This may occur due to profuse sweating, diarrhea, or vomiting.
People who have serious injuries, particularly large burns, may develop dehydration.
Many kinds of medications promote dehydration. Diuretic medications commonly referred to as “water pills” may cause a loss of electrolytes which can result in dehydration.
Mild Dehydration and the Brain
If you are mildly dehydrated, you may get a headache, feel irritable, and have difficulty thinking. Try drinking a cool glass of peppermint tea the next time you need to concentrate on a hot day. It will quench your thirst and boost your thinking.
Dehydration and the Elderly
Confusion among the elderly is sometimes a result of inadequate fluid intake. Many elders are on medications that are dehydrating, such as blood pressure drugs, and they do not eat or drink as much as they used to. They may have impaired kidney function or diabetes which interferes with a healthy balance of fluids.
Children and Dehydration
If you have a child who has developed vomiting and diarrhea, pay particular attention to signs of dehydration. It can occur within hours of repeated loose stools or vomiting.
Dehydration may also arise in the presence of a high fever. Notice how often your sick child urinates. This can be used as an indicator of whether dehydration is developing.
Try ice pops if you cannot get your child to drink fluids. Do not hesitate to get emergency medical help if you think that your child may be showing signs of dehydration as your infant’s or child’s health may deteriorate rapidly.
Fortunately, dehydration can be corrected quickly by interventions provided by emergency medical personnel.
Final Thoughts about Drinking Water and Preventing Dehydration
While healthcare professionals, especially alternative and conventional experts, often disagree; they generally agree that adequate fluid intake is essential for health. There are only a handful of conditions that require that fluids be restricted. These limits are usually temporary or related to specific kidney or heart problems. Usually, it is best to consume liquids liberally.
Adults are comprised of approximately 60% water by weight. Elders’ bodies may contain 45% of water or less. The exact percentage varies with age, sex, muscle mass, and fat content. Women tend to have less water in their bodies than men, as males often have lean muscle mass. More water is contained in muscle than in fat. Water accounts for 70% to 80% of an infant’s body weight.
Water is needed for electrolytes to dissolve and disperse. It is essential for the delivery of nutrients and the removal of wastes.
Most of the water in the human body is contained within individual cells. Approximately one-third of it is found in spaces between cells, such as in the form of lymphatic fluid. A small percentage travels between cells and the extracellular fluid.
Drink well, stay healthy, and keep your family well. It is much easier to prevent dehydration than to suffer from its effects of it. Ask your healthcare provider for specific recommendations. Adjust your fluid intake according to your health, the weather, and your level of activity.