One of my New Year’s Resolution/New Day Intentions I’ve been practicing for years is to drink enough water. It is amazing how much better my digestion system works, how my lips do not chap, and how I look younger simply by drinking water.
I don’t drink sodas. I don’t drink juice. I drink coffee in the morning and wine some evenings, otherwise it’s only water.
How much water should you drink?
Growing up, I remember my mom on one fad diet after another. I do remember her saying, “Drink 8 glasses of water a day.” But I always wondered, what size glass?
I drink two quarts of water a day, at least. I use a quart mason jar. I fill it up in the morning. I monitor my progress. I chug water if I am falling behind. I keep it in a special place on the counter. My family knows not to dump it. I measure my water.
Apparently that old adage of eight glasses a day is an eight ounce glass. 64 ounces is half a gallon, or two quarts.
According to the Mayo Clinic, all beverages count in your daily total. The formula is also a little different:
How much water do you need?
Every day you lose water through your breath, perspiration, urine and bowel movements. For your body to function properly, you must replenish its water supply by consuming beverages and foods that contain water.
So how much fluid does the average, healthy adult living in a temperate climate need? The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake (AI) for men is roughly about 13 cups (3 liters) of total beverages a day. The AI for women is about 9 cups (2.2 liters) of total beverages a day.
What about the advice to drink 8 glasses a day?
Everyone has heard the advice, “Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day.” That’s about 1.9 liters, which isn’t that different from the Institute of Medicine recommendations. Although the “8 by 8” rule isn’t supported by hard evidence, it remains popular because it’s easy to remember. Just keep in mind that the rule should be reframed as: “Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid a day,” because all fluids count toward the daily total.
Clearly I am not a Mayo Clinic doctor, but I have to disagree. Not all fluids should count towards you daily total because some fluids are actually dehydrating, like those that contain caffeine.
We are all individuals that require different amounts of water depending on where we live, how much we exercise, the climate, our age, etc. One clue is to look at your urine. What color is it? Does it have a strong odor? These are all signs that you are not drinking enough water.
What about our kids? How much water should they drink?
The same variables that affect adults also affect children. Unfortunately, most kids drink too much juice, sugared drinks, and sodas. According to Kids Eat Right:
Water is one of the body’s most essential nutrients. People may survive six weeks without any food, but they couldn’t live more than a week or so without water. That’s because water is the cornerstone for all body functions. It’s the most abundant substance in the body, accounting for up to 75 percent of body weight. It helps keep body temperature constant at about 98.6 degrees, and it transports nutrients and oxygen to all cells and carries waste products away. Water helps maintain blood volume, and it helps lubricate joints and body tissues such as those in the mouth, eyes and nose. And water is truly a liquid asset for a healthy weight—it’s sugar free, caffeine free, and—most importantly—calorie free…
So how do you apply total water recommendations to your kid’s day? As a rule of thumb, to get enough water, your child or teen should drink at least six to eight cups of water a day and eat the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Also pay special attention to your child’s or teen’s water consumption when he or she is physically active. Before, during and after any physical activity, kids need to drink plenty of water, especially in hot weather. The goal is to drink one-half to two cups of water every 15 to 20 minutes while exercising.
Kids Total Daily Water Requirements
Age Range Gender Total Water (Liters/Day) 4-8 years Girls and boys 1.3 9-13 years Girls 2.1 Boys 2.4 14-18 years Girls 2.3 Boys 3.3
Again, these numbers refer to total water contained in food and other beverages, which again, I only count pure water.
For quick reference, my 13-year-old daughter should be drinking almost nine cups. That is more than my two quarts. I know she is not drinking that much pure water.
The Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children offers a little less quantity in its advice:
Why we need water
The human body is about 60% water. It is necessary for our health and well-being. Water is part of our cells, blood, digestion, and waste elimination. Water also lubricates joints. We cannot live more than a few days without water.
Too little water can lead to dehydration and the following symptoms:
• Dry mouth
• Muscle weakness
How much water do we need?
The amount of water we need depends on our body size, physical activity, the weather, and caffeine consumption. Most men and women need about 8-12 cups of water per day. Children need less because they are smaller.
About 70-80% of people’s total water intake comes from drinking water and other beverages; the rest people get from food. The table below shows the recommended amount of beverages that children and youth should drink on a daily basis.
Adequate Daily Intake of Beverages
1 – 3 years
about 4 cups
4 – 8 years
about 5 cups
about 8 cups for boys about 7 cups for girls
about 11 cups for boys about 8 cups for girls
Sugar-sweetened beverages and juices
Children who drink just a couple servings of sugar-sweetened drinks each day have a higher risk of being overweight. These children also tend to eat a less healthy diet that is low in important nutrients. For instance, they may drink less milk, missing out on the calcium needed for healthy bone growth. Since children are growing, this lack of nutrients impacts their health for life. This includes not only soda pop, but also juice drinks that are less than 100% juice.
While fruit juice contains a high dose of important vitamins and minerals, it also has a lot of sugar. This means that drinking juice instead of eating fruit causes a child to consume more calories and feel less satisfied. In addition, some juices are very acidic, and they, along with soda pop, can damage teeth.
Choosing water when thirsty instead of a flavored drink or milk or juice is much better for your body. It lessens caloric intake, and it lets the water do its job of flushing our toxins and allowing your organs to work optimally. At the very least, you should be drinking two quarts of water. I think I need to drink more.
I find it interesting that boys require more water than girls. I hope they aren’t counting sodas, as these beverages are contributing to the 3/4 cups of sugar teenage boys consume a day! I also think it is probably rare that teenage boys are drinking 11 cups. That is almost three quarts.
I wonder if male adults require more water than females.
I am happy to see more filtered water refilling stations in schools. My kids’ school has them in the hallways. They must encourage hydration.
We need water. How much do you drink? How much do your kids drink? Take an inventory and see where you stand. Increase your water intake and notice how you feel. At first you may need to urinate more, but as your body becomes more hydrated you will have more energy and glow.