Adequate water intake is important, especially when it comes to hot summer days or just good health. After all, our bodies are made up of about 60 percent water. Plus, we are constantly losing water through urine and sweat every single day. Drinking adequate amounts of water is essential to prevent dehydration which negatively alters metabolic function. While several health authorities advise drinking 8 cups (64 ounces) of water per day, specialized agencies dealing with public health have other views.
How Many Cups of Water Should I Drink Per Day?
Though many health professionals recommend “8 cups per day” of drinking water, this general advice is incorrect. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “the minimum requirement for water is the amount that equals losses and prevents adverse effects of insufficient water, such as dehydration.” The primary determinant of water requirement is metabolic; however, the actual estimate of water requirement is highly variable and complex. It totally depends on a person’s environmental conditions and activity.
However, the WHO did establish an “adequate intake” of water based on recommendations made by the United States Food and Nutrition Board who studies issues of national and global importance on the safety and adequacy of food supply.
How Much Water Should I Drink for My Weight and Age?
Following is a list which is dependent upon age, gender, pregnancy, and breastfeeding. It includes the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for water established by the United States Food and Nutrition Board in 2004. Body weight is based on a median weight for each age group.
Because the DRI's recommendations for water may seem high to you and my readers, I'd like to point out that these figures are based on both food and beverages. I understand that these totals do not answer your question regarding "drinking" water. Therefore, I have listed that amount with the DRI for each group below. Basically, total drinking water is approximately 80 percent of your DRI.
Children (Both Boys and Girls to 8 Years Old)
- DRI: about 24 ounces (oz.) and assumed to be from human milk
- DRI: about 27 oz. and assumed to be from human milk and complementary foods
- DRI: about 5.5 cups per day
- Drinking Water (80% of DRI): About 4.5 cups per day
- DRI: about 7.25 cups per day
- Drinking Water (80% of DRI): about 5.75 cups per day
Women (Ages 9 to 70+)
- DRI: about 9 cups per day
- Drinking Water (80% of DRI): about 7.25 cup per day
- DRI: about 9.75 cups per day
- Drinking Water (80% of DRI): about 7.75 cups per day
- DRI: about 11.5 cups per day
- Drinking Water (80% of DRI): about 9.25 cups per day
Pregnant & Lactating Women (Ages 14 to 50)
- DRI: about 12.75 cups per day
- Drinking Water (80% of DRI): about 10.25 cups per day
- DRI: about 16 cups per day
- Drinking Water (80% of DRI): about 12.75 cups per day
Men (Ages 9 to 70+)
- DRI: about 10 cups per day
- Drinking Water (80% of DRI): about 8 cups per day
- DRI: about 14 cups per day
- Drinking Water (80% of DRI): 11.25 cups per day
- DRI: about 15.75 cups per day
- Drinking Water (80% of DRI): 12.5 cups per day
Athletes, as well as those who perform hard labor or are outdoors in the heat, will need more and can measure their intake by the kilograms lost after exercise. For each kilogram (approximately 35 oz.) lost, one additional liter of water should be added to the DRI.
What if I Don't Have Time to Calculate My Water Intake?
If you're like most people, you won't have time to calculate how much water you're drinking each day. However, you can take one of two quick litmus tests to determine if you're getting enough water:
- Urine Test: If your urine is moderately or dark yellow, then you need to drink more. If you take supplements, the first urine after consumption may be dark yellow. This is normal as your body will rid what it doesn't need. However, do shoot for at least two completely clear pees per day.
- Thirst Test: If you find yourself thirsty, you definitely need to drink more water per day as this is a sign of dehydration. Try to keep a water bottle near you and just take small sips throughout the day to prevent this.
Water is not only important for keeping yourself from getting dehydrated. It is also important for metabolic function and can help you prevent health problems (i.e., constipation, kidney stones, cancer). Flushing toxins from your body is crucial for health, and it depends on fresh, clean drinking water.