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August 2013

Staying Hydrated: How Much Water Should You Drink?

Water is the Most Essential Nutrient: Water is vital to good health.  Our body weight is 60% water, with every cell in the body dependent on water.

Each day water is lost through body functions including; respiration, perspiration and elimination, and it needs to be replenished.  Lack of water can lead to dehydration and impair body functions.  Even mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you feel tired.  Not drinking enough fluids can lead to constipation, balance problems, urinary tract infections, kidney failure and slower wound healing. 

How Much Water is Needed?
No research exists that says exactly how much fluid we should drink.  Requirements vary and depend on many factors including:

Activity Level Your Health Fiber Intake Medications Where you Live

Many experts suggest 6-8, 8 ounce glasses of liquid each day.  Others recommend the ounces of fluid should be equal to 1/2 of your body weight.

NOTE:  If you have heart, kidney or liver disease fluids may need to be restricted, check with your  health care provider.

To Maintain Fluid Balance:
We get water from a variety of sources including; fruits, vegetables, and even meat with food contributing to about 20% of our daily fluid needs.  In addition, low sodium soup, non fat milk and other beverages provide fluids, however keep in mind:

  • You may need more fluids if you take certain medications, check with your pharmacist.
  • Increase fluids if you: exercise; it is unusually hot, especially during the summer months; are constipated; prone to kidney stones or urinary tract infections; or are sick with a fever, vomiting and have diarrhea.
  • Caffeine acts as a diuretic, so try to limit consumption of coffee, tea  and other caffeinated beverages. Minimize beverages with “empty” calories including; soda, lemonade, and juice drinks especially if you are diabetic or overweight.  Even fruit juices, although they contain vitamins and minerals are 100% sugar.

Warning Signs & Tips to Keep Hydrated:

  • If you urinate less than usual.  The color of your urine should be the color of straw if you are properly hydrated.
  • If you have dry mouth, decreased salivation or dizziness.
  • Do not wait to be thirsty, you may already be dehydrated since thirst recognition diminishes with age.
  • Water is your best bet, since it is calorie-free, inexpensive and readily available.

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