Water; How Much Do You Need to Drink?

water_drinkWater comprises two thirds of the body’s mass. It is the most necessary element for survival next to air.

Water is required for the elimination of toxins and waste through the digestive system, lymph system, liver, kidneys, and sweat glands.  It also promotes metabolism, provides oxygen to cells, and fills spaces inside/between cells for healthy skin & toned muscle.

Deficiencies in water can result in excess body fat, poor muscle tone, digestive diseases, muscle pain, and water-retention. And being dehydrated can really increase stress, further impacting your health.

The amount of water that your body eliminates each day is somewhere between 1 and 3 liters, the equivalent of four to thirteen 8 oz. glasses of water per day.  The US FDA recommends that women drink 11 glasses and men drink 16 glasses of water each day to stay hydrated.

The general recommendation is that you should consume 1/2 ounce per pound of body weight (30ml/kg) per day (that’s ten eight-ounce glasses for a 160 pound person), unless you are athletically active, in which case you should drink 2/3 ounces per pound (13 to 14 glasses a day at 160 lbs of body wieght).

Other Sources

Part of your daily water consumption may also be from foods and juices. A bowl of oatmeal, or a cup of soup, provides 8 oz. of water. A serving of broccoli or spinach, or a cup of rice, provides 5 oz. of water. Many fresh vegetables and fruits contain 3-5 oz. of water. For example, an apple or a pear contain 5 oz.

Other foods are not as hydrating, such as an egg, which provides about an ounce of water, or a slice of pizza, providing only about an ounce. Snacking on chips provides virtually none.

Some people argue that tea, soft drinks and coffee do not count, however this is in itself arguable. Although these contain caffeine, a known diuretic, which cause the body to expel a small amount of moisture, they do still provide additional fluids.

Juices are also ok, but one should keep in mind the amount of fructose concentrated in a glass of juice.  The body has a lot of work to do to process the sugar that is concentrated in a glass of juice. When eating a piece of fruit, the liver has time to process the fructose into energy, but when consuming a single glass of juice, which may contain the fructose of up to six pieces of fruit, the liver becomes taxed and turns most of that fructose into fat.

Distilled, purified or reverse-osmosis water is still water. It is the H2O we’re talking about here as a requirement. However, reverse-osmosis water in particular is devoid of essential minerals that we commonly get from water as one primary source. In this case these minerals must be supplemented.

Signs of Dehydration

Two indicators of advancing dehydration are headaches, and dark colored urine. Thirst is a good indicator of the early stages of dehydration, and you should drink if you are thirsty.

Some suggestions have been made that by the time you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated, but your body creates the sensation of thirst when your body is still within normal hydration limits. However if you are actively exercising you should make it a point to stay ahead of the thirst so that the dehydration does not get ahead of you as you are sweating.

So staying hydrated is not as difficult as one might think. An extra glass or two over what you normally consume in food and fluids may be enough.

But you definitely don’t want to drink yourself into being over hydrated. This can cause hyponatremia, a shortage of sodium and other essential minerals in the bloodstream. This is particularly dangerous during exercise, because these minerals are excreted through the sweat glands.

And because these minerals are necessary for maintaining brain and heart functions, deficiencies can cause serious problems (see the post in this blog on Essential Minerals).

A friend of mine, Dr. Doug Willan has provided a couple of videos on drinking enough water, adn why you might be feeling thirsty! Thanks Dr. Doug!

Keep hydrated and stay healthy!

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23 Responses to “Water; How Much Do You Need to Drink?”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Great post Vicki. Getting the word out about water is one of my passions.

    In regards to Peter’s comment about water and brain function, the brain is something like 85% water. Ionized/mineralized water is how the body conducts electricity and can therefore effect short-term memory.

    The problems with distilled and reverse-osmosis water is that they are so pure. When they come in contact with the air, the water starts to absorb carbon dioxide and becomes acidic. You can test it for yourself with a simple test strip. It is the acidity that leaches minerals as the body works to neutralize it.

    • Vicki says:

      Thank you Wayne!

      I appreciate your adding value here, what a good description of how the brain is affected, and how distilled and reverse-osmosis water can be compromised!

      Now I use reverse osmosis water about half the time, and have an essential mineral solution and sometimes just add some high quality sea salt to it. Would that salinity prevent its absorption of other chemicals?

      Thanks again!

      Wishing You Continued Health!

  2. Rob says:

    Water is life and our body cell consists of 90% water

  3. Thank you so much for this; the timing’s perfect. I’m on a 6 week adventure to lower my cholesterol without resorting to Lipitor and I just read that dehydration can contribute to high cholesterol. I’m thrilled to see that oatmeal and apples, etc “count”.

  4. Alex Zorach says:

    About caffeine acting as a diuretic, it does act as a diuretic, but very quickly a tolerance to this effect is developed to the point where even pretty heavy use (2-3 cups of coffee or 5-8 of tea daily) has no diuretic effect in the long-run.

    The review of the scientific literature that found these results is here:


    People who are not used to consuming caffeine should be cautious of its diuretic effects and make sure to not get dehydrated if they consume coffee or tea when they are not used to it. However, in the long-run, there’s no need to worry about this issue.

  5. Heather says:

    Love the blog…would love to follow you on facebook. Thanks.

  6. Tim says:

    Thanks for writing this great blog I really enjoyed.

    Greetings from Tim. 🙂

  7. Ryan says:

    I used to drink 2 gallons a day when I was bodybuilding. Currently I take in a gallon a day. My energy increased tremendously when I began to properly hydrate myself. Keep in mind that you may have to increase sodium intake if you aren’t used to drinking a lot of water since it’s a natural diuretic.

  8. Tony Brown says:

    I don’t know If I said it already but …Excellent site, keep up the good work. I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, 🙂

    A definite great read..Tony Brown

    • Vicki says:

      Thanks for the additional info Ryan! Yes the essential minerals including sodium are diluted when you drink lots of water especially when working out and sweating, which also causes these minerals to be depleted.

      And thank you Tony for the complement! I appreciate the kind words and support!

      To your health!

  9. Great questions and comments! I have one additional comment to Peter on water and intelligence. If one becomes dehydrated, they may lose the ability to think. Which is what happens to many people in the late afternoon during work or school. Most people blame it on low blood sugar but it could be one, the other or even booth. Keep up the good comments and questions.

    • Vicki says:

      Thanks Julianne for the additional comment, very important to know that, and to keep water available when it is sometimes hours on end which we go without thinking of it. When thirst becomes more prevalent, it may already have started affecting mental clarity. So drink as soon as you being feeling the thirst!

  10. Greta says:

    Thank you for the great information. I am working on the habit of drinking more water.

  11. Vicki says:

    Thank you Claire! I really appreciate the feedback and kind words!

    Yea, sometimes you have to back off the drinking a bit if you know you won’t be around facilities for a while LOL! Good for the detoxing though!

  12. Claire says:

    Great article! So true! I have a plastic 32oz. bottle I carry around everywhere. I try to drink 3-4 full ones a day (thats 8-12 8oz. glasses!) so I am pretty proud of myself! Although I have seen myself go from urinating rarely ever to a few times an hour! I guess this is okay health-wise, only a little annoying at times..

    Thanks again, I love reading your posts! (@coconuteclipse on twitter)

  13. Peter says:

    Yeah! My comment made it. I asked the above questions in part because I thought them helpful.

    That aside, I have heard generally, and heard one testimony, to the effect that distilled water drinking without deliberate replenishing of essential minerals has led to scary trouble.

    I am not sure that sustained distilled water drinking runs people into trouble in every case.

    My point in presenting the 32 oz illustration is that people like me don’t drink FREQUENTLY enough. I am more inclined to rely on my hypothalamus (isn’t that what tells me “I’m thirsty”?) than on a drinking schedule.

    And overdrinking cannot compensate adequately for frequency of drinking. Perhaps more awareness of/education about the “I am thirsty” impulse helps with frequency.

    So does proximity to the bathroom and opportunities for such breaks at work.

    I also understand that different body metabolic types (Wolcott) need to urinate more or less frequently and have differing nutritional needs; I would think that would have an effect on hydration and drinking frequency too.

  14. Vicki says:

    Hi Peter!

    I will answer your questions here as best I can —

    1) Distilled water won’t leach essential minerals from the body but we normally get trace amounts of minerals from water, so if anyone is drinking distilled water for detoxification they should be taking some essential mineral supplements (see my post on essential minerals for more info – http://nutrition-now.com/2009/05/essential-minerals-are-critical-to-your-healt/).

    2) I would not advise drinking that much water at one time, for the reasons in the post which describe the dangers of over hydration. Just be sure you get your body’s requirement of water per your weight from the various sources in your diet through the course of the day. If you are detoxing you may want to drink more water than relying on say fruits, tea and soup for example.

    3) It is not recommended to drink large amounts of any liquid with or just before a meal for the reasons you just state, that you can dilute your digestive enzymes and not get all the nutrients from your food (see my post on Enzymes for more on those – http://nutrition-now.com/2009/05/what-enzymes-mean-to-your-health/).

    4) I would think the risk is only greater is you just don’t get the recommended amount of fluid per your body weight and given your physical activity levels.

    5) I have never heard that hydration affects intelligence but again, any dehydration or excess hydration would probably have effects on essential minerals which do affect organs such as the brain (again, see the post on essential minerals).

    Thanks for the great questions!
    Wishing you good health,

  15. Peter says:

    This may be for another post, but this does spark various questions:

    1) How much distilled water risks leaching essential minerals from the body?

    2) If I drink, say, 32 oz of water at once when thirsty, and then not again for 4-5 hours, what happens?

    3) How much water dilutes my stomach acid or bile, causing my food to be partially digested until bacteria in the large intestines create gas?

    4) Due ti greater water needs, are males at higher risk of dehydration or mineral leaching than females?

    5) I have heard that dehydration/hydration can affect intelligence. Is this true?

  16. Kei says:

    Thank you ! I don’t have any habit to have water. Instead, I drink coffee, but I try to take water as possible 🙂


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