Reasons You Need to Drink More Water

How Much Water Do You Need to Drink Every Day?

You need to drink water every day.
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Your body contains more water than anything else – about 60 percent of your total body weight. Water helps regulate your body temperature, transports nutrients, and helps remove waste. Every day you lose water when you breathe, sweat, urinate, and defecate, and that water needs to be replenished. 

The big question is how much water do you need to drink every day? Although that's a simple question, it doesn't have an easy answer. It depends on some environmental and physical factors that can change every day. Also, it's not just the water you drink – about 20 percent of your water intake comes from the foods you eat. The remaining 80 percent comes from beverages, including water, coffee, tea, milk, and anything liquid.

The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy reviewed years of research evidence on adequate water intake and has the following recommendations:

  • Men: 13 cups (about 10.5 cups from beverages)
  • Women: 9 cups (about 7 cups from beverages)
  • Pregnant women: 10 cups (about 8 cups from beverages)
  • Breastfeeding women: 13 cups (about 10.5 cups from beverages)

How Do You Know If You're Drinking Enough Water?

Most people can gauge their water intake by looking at urine color. If you're getting enough water, your urine will be pale yellow , and you'll urinate several times a day. Urine color doesn't work for everyone. Taking dietary supplements that contain riboflavin will make your urine bright yellow, and certain medications can change the color of your urine, as well. And if you have any kidney problems or other heath conditions you should talk to your health care provider about how much water to drink.

You May Need More Water If You're Thirsty

If you're thirsty you probably need more water.
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Thirst is the desire to drink something. It can be triggered by the loss of fluid volume in and around cells and in the blood. Thirst is your body's way of saying you need water to avoid dehydration.

Thirst has a behavioral component as well and can be triggered by aromas and flavors, so just thinking about your favorite beverage can make you thirsty. It's also important to note that older people often have problems with the thirst mechanism and may not feel thirsty even when they're dehydrated.

You May Need More Water If You Have Bad Breath and Dry Mouth

Bad breath may mean you need more water.
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There are some things that can cause bad breath, but one reason is a lack of normal saliva production and even mild dehydration may reduce saliva flow. If your bad breath is accompanied by a dry mouth, drinking more water throughout the day may help. It might also help to keep a glass of water by your bedside for nighttime relief.

You May Need More Water If You Can't Think Straight

Dehdyration can cause a decline in mental function.
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Studies show that a loss of about 2 percent of your body fluid can cause a decline in mental function, so if you're having trouble concentrating, it may be time for a water break.

You May Need More Water If You're Physically Active

You need more water when you exercise.
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Increased activity like exercise or physical labor can increase the amount of fluid lost when you sweat. It's best to drink two to three cups of water before your activity begins and drink about one cup of water every 15 minutes or so while you're active.

You May Need More Water If You're in a Hot Area

Working outside in hot weather means you need more water.
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Water is essential for regulating your body temperature, so if you're outside on a hot day or stuck inside without air conditioning, you're going to need more water as the heat causes you to sweat more. Even if you're not active, spending the day in 90-degree temperature conditions could more than double your fluid requirement. And even more if you're physically active.

You May Need More Water If You're at a High Elevation

Being at high altitudes requires more water.
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Air pressure is reduced at higher elevations and compared to being at sea level, people who live at 4,000 feet generally lose about eight ounces more fluid every day, mostly because of changes in respiration. The higher you go, the greater potential for fluid loss, so be sure to bring extra water if you're going for a hike in the mountains.

You May Need More Water If You Have a Fever

You need more water if you have a fever.
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If you're sick with a fever, letting yourself get dehydrated isn't going to help, and it may make the fever worse. Sip water or other fluids to keep yourself hydrated. Also, see your health care provider if the fever lasts more than two days or you have other symptoms that don't go away.

You May Need More Water If You Have Diarrhea

Diarrhea will result in fluid loss and possible dehydration.
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Diarrhea can happen for a variety of reasons, including infections, irritable bowel syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disorders. But whatever, the cause, diarrhea can lead to dehydration. Drink extra fluids while you have diarrhea, and after, to remain hydrated.

You May Need More Water If You Have a Hangover

Drinking water will help a hangover.
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Drinking too much alcohol will lead to a hangover the next day. While one or two alcoholic beverages shouldn't cause a problem, overindulging can result in dehydration, inflammation, a headache, and stomach irritation. Drink plenty of water while you're recuperating. And next time, drink water while you're partying – it may slow down your alcohol consumption.

You May Need More Water If You're Pregnant

Pregnant women need more water.
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Women who are pregnant need about ten cups of fluid every day. Some women retain extra fluid during their pregnancy and have some swelling, but that doesn't reduce the need for water. If you're pregnant, talk to your doctor about how much water you need every day.

You May Need More Water If You're Breastfeeding

Moms who are breasfeeding need more water.
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Breastmilk is mostly water, so you'll need to drink extra water while you're breastfeeding. The Institute of Medicine recommends all breastfeeding moms consume about 13 cups of fluids every day. It doesn't all have to be water – any healthy beverages will do.

What About Caffeine?

Caffeine doesn't appear to cause dehydration.
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Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it makes you pee more, but your body adapts to moderate caffeine intake and the amount of water in your cup of coffee, or tea is more than enough to offset any fluid lost. But I'm not sure what happens if you're a heavy caffeine consumer – I think there's potential for dehydration if you're gulping down energy drinks and dancing it up all night. You might need extra water in that case.


National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, Health and Medicine Division. "Dietary Reference Intakes Tables and Application."

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