Are You Drinking Enough Water?

By Art Espidol, MS, RD

Did you get your eight cups of water today? It sounds like a simple question, but it says so much more!

According to the Mayo Clinic, “water is your body's principal chemical component and makes up about 60 percent of your body weight. Every system in your body depends on water. For example, water flushes toxins out of vital organs, carries nutrients to your cells, and provides a moist environment for ear, nose and throat tissues.”

Something that most people have heard of, or are at least familiar with, is the “8 by 8” rule. This is the rule that one should drink eight cups of eight ounces of water a day. This is a good rule to go by, but it really doesn’t have any studies to back it up. If you drink eight cups (eight ounces each), that comes out to about 1.9 liters total. The Institute of Medicine has determined that the adequate intake of water for men is 13 cups (three liters) and nine cups (2.2 liters) for women, per day.

You are probably thinking, “eight cups doesn’t meet the recommendation.” Well, many of the foods we eat and drink, other than water, also contain water. The “8 by 8” rule should be seen as part of getting to that goal of 13 cups or nine cups for the day. Think of it as an addition to your normal diet, because on average, food will provide about 20 percent of your overall fluid needs.

Once again, these are recommendations. The needs of a person will vary depending on certain things - do you exercise? How long and intense are your workouts? Do you live in a hot or humid area? Are you pregnant? Are you sick or have certain health conditions?

If you work out, you might want to increase those eight cups by adding 1.5 to 2.5 cups per day, and if you are doing long and intense workouts, consider sports drinks to help replace the sodium that was lost through sweat. As for the climate of where you live, hot and humid weather may cause a person to sweat more. So, an increase in water would be beneficial. Lastly, if you are pregnant you might want to increase your intake to 10 cups per day, or if breastfeeding, up to 13 cups per day.

When it comes to being sick, you might need more fluid because of fever, diarrhea, or vomiting, which can dehydrate your body. However, depending on certain conditions, fluids might need to be reduced or restricted because of heart failure or kidney disease. If this is the case, consult your healthcare provider.

Despite following the “8 by 8” rule, you might be asking yourself, “Am I drinking enough water?” Signs that you are drinking enough water include rarely feeling thirsty throughout the day or if your urine is colorless or light yellow.

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