Fit Family: Summer is Here, How Much Water Do I Need to Drink?

by Mike Levinson

waterYou hear the “rules” thrown around all the time: Drink eight glasses of water a day. Drink half your body weight in water a day. If you’re already thirsty, it’s too late; you’re dehydrated.

And while you certainly know it’s not pleasant to feel parched, staying hydrated is important for a host of other reasons. Water aids digestion, flushes out toxins, lubricates the joints and keeps your memory sharp. When you’re dehydrated, your eyes, nose, mouth, skin and hair will also feel dry.

There are some guidelines to follow for staying hydrated. Healthy adult women need around 90 ounces of total water and healthy adult men need about 125 ounces every day.

But that doesn’t mean you need to chug over 11 cups of water every day. “Total” water also includes the water in other beverages — yep, even that coffee — as well as the water in hydrating, high-water-volume foods. About 80 percent of our daily water intake comes from beverages, and the remaining 20 percent comes from the foods we eat.

There are some situations in which you’ll want to throw a few extra ounces back: Hot, humid weather causes us to lose more water from sweat, and if you’re sick with a fever or vomiting you’ll be losing extra liquids too. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding also require extra water, as do athletes or exercisers who lose extra water from sweat.

It’s true that thirst is a symptom of dehydration, so try to remember to sip fluids throughout the day. But don’t overdo it: It is possible to drink too much water, which, frighteningly, can kill you.

One way to keep on top of your hydration is to keep an eye on the color of your urine. There are urine color chart available to accurately depict levels of dehydration. The goal is to produce urine the color of lemonade. If your urine is in the darker range, you need to drink more fluids and may need to consult your doctor.

Keep in mind that other things can temporarily change the color of your urine, including some medications, fruits and artificial coloring in foods. Vitamins and supplements are also likely to have an affect, often producing urine that is bright yellow, mimicking the colors indicative of dehydration. So bottom line, drink at least 16 ounces of water in the morning, 16 ounces in the afternoon and 16 ounces around dinner time. 

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