How much water do you really need every day?
The answer is: it depends.
All the experts agree: We need water to live. But how much? There isn’t a simple answer.
Why is water good for you?
Our bodies need water to do all the things needed to keep us alive and healthy. The typical adult is made up of more than half water. Your body uses water to:
- Make sweat.
- Make saliva (spit).
- Keep your blood flowing.
- Digest food.
- Get rid of waste.
- Make chemicals for your brain.
- Keep the pads between your bones soft.
- Cushion your brain inside your skull.
Cup, bottle or bowl: many ways to get water
Getting enough water is easy nowadays. You can choose from:
- Flavored waters or seltzers
- Fruit juices
- Sports drinks
- Tap or bottled water
Good water sources served up on your plate
What comes in a cup or bottle isn’t our only way to get water. Many fruits and veggies are good sources. Plus, they offer plenty of vitamins and fiber. They don’t completely replace your need to drink water, but they help. Here’s a short list:
- Bell peppers
- Leafy greens
- Summer squash
How much water does the average person need?
Experts suggest anywhere from six to 13 glasses a day. But your needs could differ, based on:
- Daily activities
- Size and weight
A 100-pound person will need less than someone who is 200 pounds. A marathon runner will need more water than a person sitting in an office.
If you have a fever, you’ll need more water than when you’re healthy. People with kidney failure need to limit how much water and other beverages they drink. (The kidneys need water to remove waste from your blood.) And age can change how your body handles water.
Aging and your need for water
For most people, the common sign that you need water is thirst. But as we age that sign fades, especially after 65.
Older adults may also lose water due to:
- Aging blood vessels
- Drinking less because of fear of incontinence (not being able to hold your pee)
- Forgetting to drink
- Taking diuretics (medicines to help your body get rid of water)
Serious signs you need more water
If you lose a lot of water and don’t replace it, you could become dehydrated. This is serious. Here are some of the signs:
- Feeling dizzy
- Mood changes
- Not thinking clearly
Be especially careful if you’re outside in hot weather. Drink extra water to help keep yourself cool.
If you’re worried about whether you’re drinking enough water, talk to your doctor. Make sure you understand what’s right for your health.
- AARP. 8 signs of dehydration that you shouldn’t ignore. Accessed April 11, 2022.
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Water. The Nutrition Source. Accessed April 11, 2022.
- Mayo Clinic. Diabetes symptoms: When diabetes symptoms are a concern. Accessed April 11, 2022.
- Mayo Clinic. Dehydration. Symptoms and causes. Accessed April 11, 2022.
- National Kidney Foundation. 6 tips to be “water wise” for healthy kidneys. Accessed April 11, 2022.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Get the facts: Drinking water and Intake. Nutrition. Accessed April 11, 2022.
- The Cleveland Clinic. 7 foods to fix dehydration. Accessed April 11, 2022.
- The Cleveland Clinic. Dehydration: Causes and symptoms. Accessed April 11, 2022.
- The National Academy of Sciences. Dietary References Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate. 2005. The National Academies Press. Washington, D.C.
The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.