Recommended Water Intake by Age
Why Water Is Essential for Health
Water is your body's most essential chemical substance. About 60% of human body weight is water and all of its processes depend on water. Water flushes out waste products from vital organs, carries essential nutrients around the body, and provides hydration for ear, nasal, and throat tissues.
Not enough water can result in dehydration, and even slight dehydration can squeeze your energy, making you weak and tired.
Water is important for our daily activities and to keep us healthy, however, water requirements vary according to individual needs. What is the recommended water intake by age? Your water requirements depend on many factors, including your current health, level of activity, and where you live.
While no particular system will suit every person's need, learning more about your body's requirements can help you figure out how much water to drink each day.
Recommended Water Intake by Age
Your body loses water through breathing, perspiration, urination, and bowel movements. For the body to work well, you have to replenish the lost fluids by drinking beverages and eating foods containing water.
So how much water does a normal, healthy individual living in a moderate environment require? These are the Institute of Medicine's guidelines:
- Men should drink 3 liters (about 14 glasses) of total fluids a day.
- Women should drink 2.2 liters (about 10 glasses) a day.
- Babies and infants need 0.7 to 0.8 liters of water daily from breast milk or formula.
- Small children need 1.3 liters to 1.7 liters everyday. Boys and girls age 9 to 13 need 2.5 liters every day.
We all have heard the advice: "Drink eight 8 glasses of water daily." That's about 1.9 liters, which isn't that far from the Institute of Medicine guidelines. Try to remember that the rule is actually, "Drink more than eight 8 glasses of water every day."
Food and Beverages as Water Sources
Although it's a good idea to have water ready at all times, food can also provide fluids. Typically, food provides about 20% of total water intake. Many fruits and veggies, watermelon and tomatoes for instance, are 90% water by weight.
Similarly, milk and juice are mostly water. Beer, wine, and caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, or soft drinks can add more, but these must not be a major part of your daily total water consumption.
Plain water is your best choice because it's calorie-free, inexpensive, and easily accessible. Most important, it's what your body needs!
When to Drink More Water
It is recommended that we drink more water under certain conditions, such as when we exercise, are in a hot climate, have health problems, are pregnant, or are breastfeeding.
- Exercise After you exercise or take part in any strenuous activity, it is necessary to drink more water to replenish for the fluid loss. An added 400 to 600 milliliters (more than 2 glasses) of water should be sufficient for short periods of exercise, but intensive exercise that lasts over an hour requires additional fluid intake. How much added fluid is necessary would depend on how much you perspire during your workout and the length or type of training. During long periods of harsh exercise, it's advisable to have a sports drink containing sodium, which will help restore sodium lost in sweat and prevent hyponatremia.
- Environment Hot or humid climates can make you perspire. You'll need to consume extra fluids. Heated interiors can also make your skin lose moisture during the winter season. Additionally, altitudes of more than 8,000 feet (2,300 meters) can induce frequent urination and more accelerated breathing, using up more of your fluid reserves.
- Sickness or health problems When you have fever, nausea, or diarrhea, your body loses more fluids. You need to drink plenty of water. In most cases, your doctor may advise oral re-hydration liquids, like Gatorade or Powerade. Other ailments require more fluid intake, such as bladder disorders or kidney stones. Other conditions of the heart, kidney, liver and adrenal system may upset excretion of water and require that you control your fluid consumption.
- While pregnant or breastfeeding Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding need more water to stay well hydrated. Large amounts of fluid are required to make breastmilk. The Institute of Medicine suggests that expecting mothers drink 2.5 liters (about 10 cups) of fluids every day and women who breastfeed drink 3.2 liters (about 13 cups) of fluids daily.
How to Know You Are Hydrated
Drink enough fluid to help avoid frequent thirst. Your goal is to produce 1.5 liters (6 .4 cups) or more of clear, light-yellow urine every day. If you're curious about your water intake or have health concerns, consult your doctor or a licensed dietitian. Medical professionals can help you determine the amount of water you need.
To avoid dehydration make sure you drink the right amount of water daily. It's best if you:
- drink a glass of water or comparable no-calorie or low-calorie drinks with every meal and between each meal;
- always keep yourself properly hydrated before, duringc and after workouts.
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