Doctors say it's actually more than you think.

Do you give yourself the goal of pouring (and drinking!) an eight-ounce glass of water at least eight times each day? If so, you're not alone: It's wisdom that's been shared far and wide and something most of us have been taught to follow. Recently, however, those suggestions have changed. Doctors now say this isn't the right amount of water for everyone; children, for example, should just drink whenever they're thirsty, says Dr. Kristin Struble, MD. All this begs the question: How much water should you be drinking each day? Ahead, experts weigh in on the correct amount of H20 you want to aim to drink each day—plus, they explain why it's so important to stay hydrated in the first place.

person pouring water from pitcher into glass
Credit: Getty / Westend61

Why Hydration Matters

According to Erin Palinski-Wade, registered dietician, certified diabetes educator, and author, your body is made up of about 60 percent water, which makes staying hydrated very important. "When you are dehydrated and there is not enough water in the intestines, this can have a direct impact on everything from bowel movements (increasing the risk of constipation) to a reduced ability to remove waste products from the body." While symptoms of mild dehydration aren't that severe—they can present as reduced energy levels, dark colored urine, increased thirst, dry mouth, headaches, muscle cramps, to name a few—severe dehydration can be more serious and lead to trouble with your kidneys, bladder, heat exhaustion, and seizures.

How Much Water You Should Really Drink Per Day

Dr. Struble says that her suggestion to have kids drink whenever they're thirsty is a practice she thinks should be carried through to adulthood, too. "We all eat different things that contain different levels of sodium and other preservatives, we drink different foods that might dehydrate, we all have different activity levels, and we all live in different climates that might contribute to the need for more or less water intake," she explains. Other than being thirsty, the best way to tell if you're getting enough water is to check the water in the toilet, she says. If it's light yellow (as opposed to darker shades of the hue) you are probably well-hydrated. If your urine is on the darker spectrum, you need to make an effort to drink more H20.

However, if you're the type of person who needs a number, Dr. Adarsh V. Mudgil, a board-certified dermatologist with specialties in dermatology and dermatopathology, says you can take your weight and then multiply it by 0.55. This will be the ideal number of ounces of water your body needs each day.

How Hydration Affects Your Skin

Though it's been said that the drinking the recommended amount of water each day is the best way to get great skin, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Sapna Palep of Spring Street Dermatology says this isn't really the case. "It's a myth that you need eight glasses of water a day for glowing skin," Dr. Palep says. Hydrated skin always looks better than its dry, parched counterpart, but there's no truth to the claims that eight glasses of water is the only way to get a great complexion.

Yes, You Can Eat Your Way to Better Hydration

If you can't get all your water needs met by drinking alone, Dr. Debra Jaliman, a board-certified dermatologist, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and author, says there's another way to add to your daily water intake: "You can get water from fruits and vegetables." No matter how you're getting it, the experts all agree, drinking enough water will result in a happier, healthier body.

Comments (1)

Martha Stewart Member
July 14, 2020
Be sure to drink 'safe' water. Many municipal water systems can only do 'so' much to provide safe water. Our household uses the filtered water pitcher to help with 'clean'and hopefully safe water.