Drink up! How much water do you really need to stay hydrated?

As summer heats up, it’s important to stay hydrated. But how much water should you be drinking? Baylor College of Medicine primary care physician Dr. Mike Ren says that amount varies depending on the person. The average man needs roughly 15 cups of fluid per day, and the average woman needs 10-12 cups per day. Fluid intake comes from eating as well as drinking.

“Throughout the day, you usually get around a quarter of your fluid intake through what you eat,” said Ren, assistant professor of family and community medicine at Baylor. “Fruits like grapes and oranges are a good source of fluid intake.”

A person pausing their workout to drink from a water bottle.The rest of your liquid intake should come from what you drink, roughly 8 cups per day for the average adult. Ren says water is the best thing to keep you hydrated, but you can drink flavored water or add supplements to water as long as they are sugar free.

The amount of fluid children need depends on their age. Infants up to 6 months get their necessary fluid through breast milk or formula. Babies can start drinking sips of water around 6 months. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following daily water intake for children:

  • 6-12 months – 4-8 ounces
  • 12-24 months – 1-4 cups
  • 2-5 years – 1-5 cups

People who are involved in sports and outdoor activities will need to drink more fluid to make up for the water lost through sweat. The hotter the temperature, the more you will sweat. Ren says high humidity levels can lead to even more sweating, so it’s important to drink more in humid climates.

Older people who are less active may need to drink less fluid per day, Ren said. Certain medical conditions, kidney and heart function and medications may also impact how much water you need to drink.

“People with heart failure may need to drink less water because their body can’t handle the fluid,” Ren said. “Conversely, there are some patients on diuretics who may need to drink more water in order to stay hydrated.”

Water is essential for our bodies to function properly. It’s important to listen to your body when you’re thirsty and drink more fluids, Ren said. Darker urine color is also a good indicator of dehydration. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Ren says that overhydration isn’t a problem that most people need to worry about.

“Healthy adults and children shouldn’t be worried about drinking too much water,” Ren said. “As long as your kidneys are functioning and you don’t have heart failure, your body should be able to get rid of any excess fluid.”

By Molly Chiu

4 thoughts on “Drink up! How much water do you really need to stay hydrated?

  • I have found that water alone is not sufficient in hot weather. The electrolyte replacement is also important.

  • Very important.


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