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How much water do you really need daily?

How much water does a person actually need daily?

The question of how much water someone requires to achieve optimal hydration is one that is very common, but one that can be confusing.

Assuming that you do not have any kidney problem, a good indicator of how much water the body needs can be assessed by dividing your weight in kilograms (kg) by thirty (30) or you divide your weight in pounds (lb) by sixty-six (66). The number you get is the amount of water in liters that your body requires each day to maintain proper hydration.

So for example, if you are a sixty-kilogram adult you need 2 liters of water, and if you weigh ninety kilograms, then you need 3 liters. However, your body will require an absolute minimum of 2 liters per day of water. That is about eight glasses with a volume of 250 ml.

Some people will argue that the best indicator of your need for water ideally should be thirst and that you should only drink when thirsty. However by the time you get the thirst sensation, the symptoms of dehydration have persisted for a while and your body is at such a point that the body is in a severe shortage of water. The signal of being thirsty comes as a warning sign that the scarcity of water in your body is reaching levels that are no longer optimal for normal body function. If you wait to be thirsty to drink, you are really waiting for the alarm signal to alert you.

Rather, I think it is best to understand the water requirements of the body and satisfy them in a timely manner and then only rely on thirst just in case for some reason you are not able to meet the body’s water needs as promptly as you should have. Also, the early stages of thirst can easily be missed or ignored and so prolong the dehydration.

But it is also important to note that the thirst sensation diminishes with age from the age of 25 years. It is therefore now known that because of a gradually failing thirst sensation with age, our bodies become chronically and increasingly dehydrated from early adulthood. This diminished thirst sensation leads to a slow but continuous reduction of water in our cells until chronic dehydration occurs. And chronic dehydration could exist if we use the thirst sensation as our primary guide to water intake.

We should, therefore, follow the guide given above as a reference for the recommended daily intake of water. Although 2 liters of water is the recommended minimum amount of water, you may need to consume more water if you have lost some water through sweating a lot for whatever reason. For example, if you are undergoing periods of stress or extremes in body function or if you are in a hot environment or live in a hot climate like Uganda, you water needs may increase. Most of us will generally lose about 500 ml of water a day through perspiration. Our bodies also lose water through exhalation (about a 500mls a day), and through urination and stool (about one liter a day). So our bodies lose about one and a half to two liters a day. However, this doesn’t account for excessive perspiration.

I also recommend using the colour of urine as a good indicator of the body’s water needs. A well-hydrated person produces colourless or very light yellow urine. A comparatively dehydrated person produces yellow urine, and a very dehydrated person will produce orange urine. Keep on increasing your water intake until your urine is clear or almost clear even if it means exceeding the recommended amount.

You do not always have to consume all your water in liquid form. If you eat lots of fruits and vegetables—as you should—you will get a good amount of water each day. Foods such as bananas are 70 percent water; apples, 80 percent water; tomatoes and watermelons are more than 90 percent water; and lettuce is 95 percent water. But if you eat a lot of starches, like bread or pastries, you will need more water, because these foods add very little water to your body. I suggest that at least 60 percent of the amount you receive should be from plain water and the rest can come from fruit, water-rich vegetables, and unsweetened fruit juice if necessary. Please note that alcohol, coffee, tea, caffeine containing drinks, soda and artificially sweetened drinks do not count as water and may actually contribute to removing water from the body.

I would like to conclude by saying that your body’s needs for water shall be dependent on many factors, but as an estimate, you should divide your weight in kg by thirty to know how many liters you require a day. Water can be got from different sources, but aim to get at least 60 percent as water. Avoid sugary drinks, caffeinated beverages, and alcohol as these tend to dehydrate the body further. Lastly, always remember that you shouldn’t wait to be thirsty to drink water.

Do you have any questions regarding your water intake needs?

Please let me know and I will get back to you.

Wishing you health and happiness.

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