Water is your body’s largest chemical component. In fact, it makes up about 60 percent of your body’s weight. Simply put, you depend on water to live because everything in your body needs it to work properly. Water gets rid of your bodily wastes, keeps your temperature normal, lubricates joints and protects sensitive tissues. A lack of water can lead to dehydration which can affect some of the functions of your body.
All day you lose water through breathing, perspiration, and bathroom breaks. For your body to function properly, you must replenish this by consuming beverages and foods that contain water. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine states that an adequate daily fluid intake is nearly a gallon for men and ¾ gallon for women. This is higher than the guideline to “drink 8 glasses of water a day”, so think of the 8 glasses as a minimum.
But exactly how much water someone should drink is not a “one size fits all” answer. Individual water needs depend on factors such as your health status, how much exercise you get and in what part of the country you live.
Overall health. Your body loses fluids when you are sick and have a fever, are vomiting or have diarrhea. Follow your doctor’s recommendation to drink more water or a substitute like Pedialyte.
Exercise. When you sweat, you need to drink extra water to cover this loss. It’s important to drink water before you get very thirsty. This means before, during and after a workout.
Where you live. Hot or humid weather can make you sweat and requires more water. In addition, dehydration can occur at high altitudes.
Pregnancy or breast-feeding. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding their babies need additional fluids to stay hydrated.
There are also helpful smartphone applications like Waterminder that can track how much you are drinking each day!