“Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.” This quote by W. H. Auden tells you the vital role water plays in our lives. No water, no life. A question to ask is how much water you need to drink daily. The answer is that we don’t drink enough water.
Up to three-fourths1 of Americans drink well below the recommended levels of water. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC) has provided information about the vital role water plays in our lives.
Drinking enough water every day is good for overall health. As plain drinking water has zero calories, it can also help with managing body weight and reduce caloric intake when substituted for drinks with calories, like regular soda. Drinking water can prevent dehydration, a condition that can cause unclear thinking, result in mood change, cause your body to overheat, constipation, and kidney stones2 .
Adults and youth should drink water every day
- Daily fluid intake (total water) is defined as the amount of water consumed from foods, plain drinking water, and other beverages. Daily fluid intake recommendations vary by age, sex, pregnancy, and breastfeeding status.6
- Although there is no recommendation for how much plain water adults and youth should drink daily, there are recommendations for daily total water intake that can be obtained from a variety of beverages and foods.
- Although daily fluid intake can come from food and beverages, plain drinking water is one good way of getting fluids as it has zero calories.
Plain water consumption varies by age, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and behavioral characteristics.
- In 2005-2010, U.S. youth drank an average of 15 ounces of water and U.S. adults drank an average of 39 ounces of water on a given day. 7,8
- Among U.S. Youth, plain water intake is lower in younger children, non-Hispanic black, Mexican-American.7
- Among U.S. adults, plain water intake is lower in older adults, lower-income adults, and those with less education.8,9
- U.S. adolescents who drink less water tended to drink less milk, eat fewer fruits and vegetables, drink more sugar-sweetened beverages, eat more fast food, and get less physical activity.
Recommendations for Water, Potassium, and More
The Food and Nutrition Board released the sixth in a series of reports presenting dietary reference values for the intake of nutrients by Americans and Canadians. This new report establishes nutrient recommendations on water, salt, and potassium to maintain health and reduce chronic disease risk. Highlights of the report include:
- The vast majority of healthy people adequately meet their daily hydration needs by letting thirst be their guide. The report did not specify exact requirements for water but set general recommendations for women at approximately 2.7 liters (91 ounces) of total water — from all beverages and foods — each day, and men an average of about 3.7 liters (125 ounces daily) of total water. The panel did not set an upper level for water.
- About 80 percent of people’s total water intake comes from drinking water and beverages — including caffeinated beverages –, and the other 20 percent is derived from food.
- Prolonged physical activity and heat exposure will increase water losses and therefore may raise daily fluid needs, although it is important to note that excessive amounts can be life-threatening.
- Healthy 19- to 50-year-old adults should consume 1.5 grams of sodium and 2.3 grams of chloride each day — or 3.8 grams of salt — to replace the amount lost daily on average through sweat and to achieve a diet that provides sufficient amounts of other essential nutrients.
- The tolerable upper intake level (UL) for salt is set at 5.8 grams per day. More than 95 percent of American men and 90 percent of Canadian men ages 31 to 50, and 75 percent of American women and 50 percent of Canadian women in this age range regularly consume salt in excess of the UL.
Read this if you are Black or Older Person!
- Older individuals, African-Americans, and people with chronic diseases including hypertension, diabetes, and kidney disease are especially sensitive to the blood pressure-raising effects of salt and should consume less than the UL.
- Adults should consume at least 4.7 grams of potassium per day to lower blood pressure, blunt the effects of salt, and reduce the risk of kidney stones and bone loss. However, most American women 31 to 50 years old consume no more than half of the recommended amount of potassium, and men’s intake is only moderately higher.
- There was no evidence of chronic excess intakes of potassium in apparently healthy individuals and thus no UL was established.
“You can go 100 hours without drinking at an average temperature outdoors,” Claude Piantadosi3 of Duke University said. If it’s cooler, you can go a little longer. If you are exposed to direct sunlight, it’s less. However, one week is a generous estimate. Three to four days would be more typical.