How much water you should drink


You may have heard you should drink 8 glasses of water a day. How much you really should be drinking is more individualized than you would think. Actually the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends that people drink at least 104 ounces of water a day, which is 13 cups. They say women should have at least 72 ounces of drink which is 9 cups. Yet even considering gender, the answer to just how much water you can drink isn’t that easy.

Water recommendations

Although a good start to the eight glasses law, it is not based on reliable, well-researched facts. Your body weight consists of 60 per cent fat. Every machine that’s in your body needs water to function. Your recommended intake is dependent on factors like your gender, age, level of exercise and others, such as pregnancy or breastfeeding.


For people aged 19 and over, the latest IOM guideline is about 3.7 liters for men and 2.7 liters for women. It is the overall daily intake of fluids, including everything you eat or drink, including fruits or vegetables, that has water in it.

Men will drink about 13 cups of the amount of beverages. It’s 9 cups, for us.


Children’s guidelines have a lot to do with aging. Girls and boys aged 4 to 8 will drink 40 ounces a day, or 5 cups a day. This volume increases from ages 9 to 13 years to 56 to 64 ounces, or 7 to 8 cups. The average water consumption for ages 14 to 18 is 64-88 ounces, or 8-11 cups.

Women of reproductive age

The guidelines change whether you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Pregnant women of all ages will target at having 80 ounces, or ten glasses of water every day. Women who breastfeed can need to raise their total water consumption to 104 ounces, or 13 cups.

DemographicDaily recommended amount of water (from drinks)
children 4-8 years old5 cups, or 40 total ounces
children 9-13 years old7-8 cups, or 56-64 total ounces
children 14-18 years old8-11 cups, or 64-88 total ounces
men, 19 years and older13 cups, or 104 total ounces
women, 19 years and older9 cups, or 72 total ounces
pregnant women10 cups, or 80 total ounces
breastfeeding women13 cups, or 104 total ounces

Other considerations

If you live in a hot environment, exercise regularly, or have a fever, diarrhea, or vomiting, you will also need to drink more water.

  • Add an additional 1.5 to 2.5 cups of water each day if you exercise. You may need to add even more if you work out for longer than an hour.
  • You may need more water if you live in a hot climate.
  • If you live at an elevation greater than 8,200 feet above sea level, you may also need to drink more.
  • When you have a fever, vomiting, or diarrhea, your body loses more fluids than usual, so drink more water. Your doctor may even suggest adding drinks with electrolytes to keep your electrolyte balance more stable.

Why do you need water?

Water is essential to most processes that go through your body in a day. You replenish your supplies by drinking water. Your body and its organs can’t function properly without enough water.

Benefits of drinking water include:

  • keeping your body temperature within a normal range
  • lubricating and cushioning your joints
  • protecting your spine and other tissues
  • helping you eliminate waste through urine, sweat, and bowel movements

Additionally, drinking enough water will make you look your best. Water for example keeps the skin clean. Skin is the most comprehensive organ in your body. You keep it safe and hydrated, when you drink plenty of water. And since water contains zero calories, water can also be an effective weight-management tool.


There are risks of drinking too little or too much water.


Your body uses fluids continuously and loses them by acts like sweating and urinating. Dehydration happens when more water or fluid is lost to the body than it takes in.

Dehydration symptoms can vary from being excessively thirsty to feeling tired. You may also find that you don’t urinate as much, or that your urine is black. Dehydration in children can cause a dry mouth and tongue, lack of tears when crying and less wet diapers than normal.

Dehydration may lead to:

Mild dehydration may be treated with the addition of more water and other fluids. You can need care in hospital if you have serious dehydration. Your doctor will typically give you fluids and salts intravenous (IV) before your symptoms wane.


Drinking too much water may be dangerous to your health as well. When you drink too much, the extra water can dilute the electrolytes in your blood. Your sodium levels decrease and can lead to what is called hyponatremia.

Symptoms include:

  • confusion
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • nausea or vomiting
  • irritability
  • muscle spasms, cramps, or weakness
  • seizures
  • coma

Hyponatremia of water poisoning is rare. Individuals with a smaller build and children are more likely to experience this disorder. There are healthy citizens, such as marathon runners, who drink significant quantities of water in a short time. When you might be at risk for exercising consuming large volumes of water, consider drinking a sports drink that includes sodium and other electrolytes to help replenish the electrolytes you lose from sweating.


Staying hydrated just goes beyond the water you are drinking. Foods make up around 20 percent of the average total fluid requirements. Remember to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, along with drinking your 9 to 13 cups of water a day.

Some foods with high water content include:

  • watermelon
  • spinach
  • cucumbers
  • green peppers
  • berries
  • cauliflower
  • radishes
  • celery

Tips for drinking enough water

You should be able to reach your target of water consumption by drinking when you are thirsty and eating your meals. If you need any extra help drinking enough water, please test these tips to get more:

  • Try carrying a water bottle with you wherever you go, including around the office, at the gym, and even on road trips.
  • Focus on fluids. You don’t have to drink plain water to meet your hydration needs. Other good sources of fluid include milk, pure fruit juices, tea, and broth.
  • Skip sugary drinks. While you can get fluid from soda, juice, and alcohol, these beverages have high calorie contents. It’s still smart to choose water whenever possible.
  • Drink water while out to eat. Drink a glass of water instead of ordering another beverage. You can save some cash and lower the total calories of your meal, too.
  • Add some flair to your water by squeezing in fresh lemon or lime juice.
  • If you’re working out hard, consider drinking a sports drink that has electrolytes to help replace the ones you lose through sweating.
Chukwuebuka Martins
Chukwuebuka Martins
Chukwuebuka Martins is a writer, researcher, and health enthusiast who specializes in human physiology. He takes great pleasure in penning informative articles on many aspects of physical wellness, which he then thoroughly enjoys sharing to the general public.

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