Water plays many different roles in the human body. It helps us to maintain our temperature, carries nutrients and waste materials, and acts as a shock absorber for our joints. Water serves as a super highway for many of our neurological and chemical functions. It is also important for the health and beauty of our hair, skin, and nails. With the change of season, it is important to know how much water we should be drinking every day in order for our bodies to be functioning at their best.
While many of us grew up hearing that we need to drink eight glasses of water a day, the true amount is really based on how much water is escaping from our bodies. According to the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, human water requirements are not based on a minimum intake because there are so many factors that change our water needs. For example, water requirements will depend on the individual, like whether a person has a high or low sweat rate. It can also be situational. Someone who is playing an outdoor tennis match on a warm day will need to drink more than someone who is inactive.
Climate can also make a difference. More water will evaporate from our skin in a dry environment than in a humid environment.
That said, reliable published averages can be used as a baseline. According to researchers, the daily total amount of water recommended for a sedentary adult is eight cups (64 ounces, or around 2 two liters) for women and 10.5 cups (2.5 liters, or 84 ounces) for men. If you’re concerned that you can’t drink all that water in one day, don’t be: many of us receive water through food and drinks other than water, but it’s still important to be aware of how many cups that is a day.
Your thirst will help you to remember to drink water, but do not rely solely on your thirst as a gauge. Especially when you know or sense you are losing water — when you’re sweating, for example — you should drink before you feel thirsty. Staying hydrated is essential to your functioning and happiness, no matter what sort of climate you call home.
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Tracy Davenport, Ph.D., is a freelance health writer and the C.E.O. of Tracy’s Smoothie Place. She serves as the expert on a weekly radio show about health and wellness and is the author of Making Life Better for a Baby with Acid Reflux and multiple articles about the cost of caregiving. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram @drinksmoothies.