How Many Ounces of Water Should You Drink a Day? Experts Weigh In
Humans needs a few basic necessities in order to live, and one of the most crucial components is water. "Water is essential for cellular homeostasis and life. Without water, humans can survive for just a few days," says Naudia Jones RD, CDN and founder of Brooklyn Nutrition Practice LLC. The beverage does more than just keep you hydrated—it decreases the risk for acute and chronic diseases, promotes a healthy digestive system, healthy eating habits and removal of toxic waste material from the body. Although Jones notes that drinking enough water throughout the day determines our overall health and longevity, is there a threshold you should aim to hit daily?
Benefits of Drinking Water
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." Jones adds that the beverage helps regulate body temperature, keeps joints lubricated, keeps organs functioning properly, balances your body chemicals, and delivers nutrients to cells.
How Many Ounces of Water You Should Drink a Day
There are a few different factors that determine how many ounces of water you should drink each day. "The amount of water needed per day varies by age, sex, physical activity levels, pregnancy status, breastfeeding status, climate and geographical location, as well as disease status," Jones says. With that in mind, Jones says the United States National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine recommends men drink about 124 ounces of fluids per day, while women should aim to consume 92 ounces of fluids a day.
In addition to these guidances, Dr. Kristin Struble says to drink when you're thirsty. "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 says.
Signs You're Not Drinking Enough Water
Symptoms of mild dehydration aren't too debilitating—they can present as reduced energy levels, dark colored urine, increased thirst, dry mouth, headaches, muscle cramps, and other discomforts. Alternatively, severe dehydration can be more serious and lead to trouble with your kidneys, bladder, heat exhaustion, and seizures. If you're unsure if you're dehydrated or not, try examining your urine. According to Struble, 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.
Can You Drink Too Much Water?
Jones says there is no tolerable upper intake (the highest amount of daily nutrient intake that is likely to pose no risk of adverse health effects) for water. "In most healthy people, the kidney is able to excrete excess fluids as needed," she says. But she adds that in some rare cases a condition called water toxicity may occur from drinking too much water. "This is where a large amount of fluids is consumed in a short amount of time, which is faster than the kidneys' ability to excrete it. The excess water dilutes blood sodium levels, causing it to be too low," Jones says. The condition is most common in triathletes and marathon runners as they tend to drink large amounts of water in short timeframes, while simultaneously losing sodium through sweating.
Get Water From Food
While most water needs should be met through drinking water, Jones says you can also get fluid from food—especially high water content fruits and vegetables. "A cool slice of watermelon on a hot summer day can boost hydration and replenish needed electrolytes," she says. Other fruits and vegetables with high water content include cucumbers, strawberries, cantaloupe, oranges, grapefruit, peaches, lettuce, zucchini, celery, and tomatoes.