Written by Cara Rosenbloom
(3 min read)
Do you always have a reusable water bottle handy? You should – especially in the warm summer months when dehydration is a real possibility. The combination of outdoor activity, increased perspiration and lots of sunshine means your body needs more water than usual. But how much more is considered enough water? Let’s find out.
Do I need eight cups a day?
Your body weight is made up of about 60% water, and every body system – from blood to cells to organs – requires water to function. Drinking water is essential for your health and wellness. Adequate hydration helps maintain blood pressure, fight against muscle cramps and aids in overall body homeostasis.
There’s an old rule that we all need eight cups of water daily to stay hydrated, but the exact amount of fluid you need isn’t the same for everyone. How much hydration you need is based on your gender, age, eating habits, amount of activity, climate and sun exposure. Here are some general guidelines to follow:
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) currently recommends that:
- Men should drink at least 13 cups/day
- Women should drink at least 9 cups/day
- Children aged 4-8 should drink 5 cups/day
- Children aged 9-13 should drink 7-8 cups/day
- Teens aged 14-18 should drink 8-11 cups/day
Fluid requirements increase when you exercise – so add 1-2 cups on workout days. If you’re active for longer than an hour or have high sweat loss, you will need even more fluids to replace what’s been lost. If you live in a hot climate or at an elevation greater than 2,500 meters above sea level, you may also need to drink more. Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers also require an additional 1-3 cups. So, it’s not as simple as eight cups a day for everyone – but it’s close!
All fluids count.
If you start to feel very tired, thirsty, have a dry mouth, headache, increased body temperature, or notice your urine is dark yellow, you might have mild dehydration. Make sure to keep an eye out for signs of dehydration like these. More importantly, drink some water! If plain water isn’t your thing, check out these tips to add flavour and pizzazz to your H20.
Beyond water, other beverages and foods with high water content also count towards your daily water intake. In fact, foods make up about 20% of your daily water intake – especially fruits and vegetables. Yup, watermelon is appropriately named!
Tea, coffee, soup, milk, and other beverages also count towards your daily water total – but pick beverages that don’t contain a lot of added sugar or salt, like pop, iced tea, juice, milkshakes, etc. Low sugar sports drinks provide hydration while also packing electrolytes making them a good fluid for water intake.
So, if your day includes a cup of coffee, two cups of tea, lots of fresh fruits, vegetables and soup with dinner, you will get 4-5 cups of fluid from foods and beverages. That does not mean you need to drink an additional eight cups (or 9-13 cups!) of water. Consider consuming 3-4 more cups of water, and you should be fully hydrated for the day.
Question: Do you keep a water bottle handy and sip all day? What are your tricks to ensure you have enough fluids? Playing sports? You may have different fluid requirements. Stay well hydrated during play with these facts.
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