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How much water do you really need every day?

The answer is: it depends.

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All the experts agree: We need water to live. But how much? There isn’t a simple answer.

Why is water good for you?

Our bodies need water to do all the things needed to keep us alive and healthy. The typical adult is made up of more than half water. Your body uses water to:

  • Make sweat.
  • Make saliva (spit).
  • Keep your blood flowing.
  • Digest food.
  • Get rid of waste.
  • Make chemicals for your brain.
  • Keep the pads between your bones soft.
  • Cushion your brain inside your skull.

Cup, bottle or bowl: many ways to get water

Getting enough water is easy nowadays. You can choose from:

  • Coffee
  • Flavored waters or seltzers
  • Fruit juices
  • Milk
  • Smoothies
  • Soups
  • Sports drinks
  • Tap or bottled water
  • Tea
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Good water sources served up on your plate

What comes in a cup or bottle isn’t our only way to get water. Many fruits and veggies are good sources. Plus, they offer plenty of vitamins and fiber. They don’t completely replace your need to drink water, but they help. Here’s a short list:

  • Bell peppers
  • Berries
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Leafy greens 
  • Lettuce
  • Melons
  • Summer squash

How much water does the average person need?

Experts suggest anywhere from six to 13 glasses a day. But your needs could differ, based on:

  • Age
  • Daily activities
  • Health
  • Size and weight
  • Weather

A 100-pound person will need less than someone who is 200 pounds. A marathon runner will need more water than a person sitting in an office.

If you have a fever, you’ll need more water than when you’re healthy. People with kidney failure need to limit how much water and other beverages they drink. (The kidneys need water to remove waste from your blood.) And age can change how your body handles water.

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Aging and your need for water

For most people, the common sign that you need water is thirst. But as we age that sign fades, especially after 65.

Older adults may also lose water due to:

  • Aging blood vessels
  • Diabetes
  • Drinking less because of fear of incontinence (not being able to hold your pee)
  • Forgetting to drink
  • Taking diuretics (medicines to help your body get rid of water)
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Serious signs you need more water

If you lose a lot of water and don’t replace it, you could become dehydrated. This is serious. Here are some of the signs:

  • Feeling dizzy
  • Headache
  • Mood changes
  • Not thinking clearly
  • Overheating

Be especially careful if you’re outside in hot weather. Drink extra water to help keep yourself cool.

If you’re worried about whether you’re drinking enough water, talk to your doctor. Make sure you understand what’s right for your health.

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Sources

The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.