How Much Water Do You Really Have to Drink? And Which Type is Safest?
by Jennifer Bellini
Marketing expert, Business guru
> 2 min read
The human body is made of up to 60% water. Water is critical for almost every bodily function. However, hydration levels can drop during the day, leaving you feeling dehydrated and unable to perform at your optimal level.
There is no set level of water consumption that meets everyone’s needs because people come in various sizes, have varying health conditions, and engage in different activity levels. There are also different water types, each with advantages for the consumer.
You need to consider several factors before deciding how much water to drink and which type is best for your needs.
HERE ARE OTHER QUESTIONS THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE ABOUT WATER:
Why Water is Important
Water helps your body regulate temperature, aids digestion, flushes out toxins and waste materials, maintains steady energy levels, improves your mood, and many more crucial tasks that enable you to function.
Becoming dehydrated means your body has to work harder to perform these tasks, and you may become dizzy, tired, and find it difficult to concentrate. Unfortunately, by the time you notice you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated.
How Much Water Should You Drink?
While some health organizations recommend drinking at least ½ a gallon (2 liters) of water a day, this is an oversimplification. A sedentary person who spends most of their time on the sofa requires much less water than an athlete who trains for hours each day.
The Centres for Disease Protection and Control (CDC) does not recommend minimum water intakes. However, several considerations can help you stay hydrated.
Your body weight is an essential factor when determining how much water you need to drink. Your body comprises approximately 60% water, and a useful guideline is to drink (in ounces) around half to two-thirds of your body weight (in pounds). For example, if you weigh 150 lbs., the calculation would look like this.
150 pounds x ⅔ = 100 ounces
A standard glass of water contains 8 ounces, so you should be drinking around 12.5 glasses of water per day. Remember, this is a guideline and not a medical recommendation. Many vegetables and fruits contain water and count toward your daily fluid intake as well as non-alcoholic beverages.
If you are an active person, you’ll need to increase your water intake to avoid dehydration. Perspiring is a source of water loss, but you also lose moisture when breathing, which is usually faster during exercise. As a general guideline, you should increase your water intake by around 12 ounces for every 30 minutes of moderate daily activity.
You may find this is difficult to calculate due to other factors such as the temperature in your location. If it is hot, you will likely sweat more and may need more to rehydrate more often. Furthermore, if you have a fast metabolism, this also burns more energy and causes more rapid water loss. Hormonal factors, muscle mass, and genetics can also affect metabolism, making it challenging to know when you require more water to perform at peak levels.
Physically active people or those with a fever tend to sweat more and have an increased breathing rate which means they lose more fluid.
Because of the numerous variables involved in calculating your recommended daily water intake, it is useful to know when you're dehydrated so that you can rehydrate as soon as possible.
"As a general guideline, you should increase your water intake by around 12 ounces for every 30 minutes of moderate daily activity."
When You Need Water Immediately
Although you are already dehydrated when you notice these signs, by identifying the symptoms, you can quickly rehydrate. Your body has built-in mechanisms that indicate when it is time for you to drink, and with experience, you’ll learn to stay hydrated before the onset of these dehydration signals:
- Increased thirst
- Reduced urine output
- Dry mouth
- Muscle cramps
- Dry skin or chapped lips
If dehydration becomes worse, you could become disorientated or experience dizziness, nausea, or heart palpitations. These are signs of advanced dehydration, and you may require medical attention to rehydrate your body.
Can You Drink Too Much Water?
When deciding how much water to drink, remember your body contains electrolytes. If you consume excess water, you can flush your system of sodium, causing an imbalance between the amounts of electrolytes and water in your body. This condition is known as hyponatremia.
This imbalance can cause serious health complications and may result in death. An easy way to avoid this situation is to add half a teaspoon of sea salt to one of your daily glasses of water.
Athletes should be careful to sip water after exercising in the hot sun, so they don’t experience hyponatremia. Your body loses a lot of salt when sweating, and gulping down water immediately afterward can be dangerous.
What Type of Water Should You Drink?
Deciding which type of water to drink is an important choice for many consumers. Most water sources are now safe, and each type has specific benefits.
Tap water is the most convenient and cost-effective water source available. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for ensuring water suppliers adhere to strict regulations that minimize contaminants and safeguard the public water supply. There are low concentrations of many minerals and chemicals in water supplies, which can benefit your health.
Calcium can help with bone density, while low levels of chlorine kill dangerous parasites and germs. When choosing which type of water to drink, you can also purchase water filters that remove potential contaminants or water softeners that eliminate mineral ions reducing the water’s hardness level.
There are many types of bottled water, but they all present the same issue. Bottles have a detrimental environmental impact, and although recycling helps, it is more eco-friendly not to use plastic bottles.
If you drink bottled water, you can purchase products infused with hydrogen, which may have anti-inflammatory properties. You can also buy alkaline water that some consumers believe can help regulate some chronic diseases.
The Bottom Line
It’s essential to stay hydrated, and you can determine how much water you need depending on your physical attributes, lifestyle, and environmental conditions. The amount of water you require varies from day-to-day, and it may be beneficial to use a water filtration system to ensure you and your family drink the purest water possible.
About the Author
Jennifer Bellini is a business guru who’s spent most of her life working in her home state of Wisconsin where she still lives with her family. Her experience lends itself best to sussing out the unique problems a business may face with their water quality. She is also our lead market analyst and is the driving force behind site growth.