How much water should you be drinking in a day? It depends on many factors

Posted at 6:41 AM, Mar 12, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-12 10:16:35-04

More than half of our bodies are made up of water. Hydration is key to our well-being, affecting everything from our physical performance to our cognitive function.

So that begs the question: How much water should the average person consume daily?

That’s no easy question because there are a range of factors that influence proper hydration.

Nancy Unger, who works out with her personal trainer, Jay, at the Beverly Hills Club, makes sure she prepares for the sessions with water.

"I have my big huge mug and I just make sure that it's full and that I'm draining it several times a day," she told me.

But Nancy's and Jay's hydration needs aren’t the same according to Allegra Picano, a registered dietitian At Henry Ford Health.

"Water needs are going to differ depending on, someone's activity level, how active they are, their age, their gender," Picano said.

"Men's bodies typically have a little bit more muscle. So generally speaking, they're going to need a little bit more water than women," Picano added.

But a woman with more muscle, like an athlete, would need more water than a less muscular man. And women need more water during pregnancy.

"Same thing while we're lactating. We use a lot of that water to produce the milk," she said.

The water we consume is crucial to overall health. It's a key component in cerebrospinal fluid that protects our brain and spinal cord. It's used by the brain to create neurotransmitters, used in digestion from saliva breaking down your first bite to converting food to nutrients to eliminating waste, and regulating body temperature through sweat.

"Every single cell in your body requires water. And it's so for every single process that happens in your body, we need that water," Picano said.

According to the National Academy of Medicine - adequate total hydration for men ages 19 and older is 125 ounces a day. Just over a hundred ounces should come in the form of some sort of beverage.

For women, the total is 91 ounces, and about 74 ounces be consumed as beverages each day.

An often overlooked source of hydration comes from what we eat.

"Fruits and vegetables are your best friend, even if you can't get water, oranges, apples," Jay Mack, the personal trainer, said.

You can also count your coffee, tea, and dairy, low fat is best. Sports drinks count but they can come with sugar and other ingredients are aren’t healthy are beneficial

"Is alcohol fair game too? Does that count?" I asked.

Yeah, absolutely. It counts. There is some water in there as well," Picano said. "It can promote you to use the restroom a little bit more. So as long as you're drinking water with it."

Picano said moderation is key. Remember, our bodies know how much water we need and will send us signals. We just have to listen.

If you want help tracking your water intake - of course there is an app for that. There are even apps that turn hydration into a game to encourage you along the way.