October 5, 2011

The Truth About Water – How Much Do You Really Need?

When asked how many glasses of water you should drink daily, do you answer six to eight glasses. That is the typical answer you will find from a variety of sources. For those that may not drink that amount of water daily, though, it may seem like an incredible amount. Some experts are saying that it may just be too much. Some scientists suggest there is no evidence that indicates six to eight glasses is the right amount. It is possible to over hydrate, too.

How Much Is Right?

The amount of water that you drink is dependent on your gender, activity level and your size. In some recommendations, such as those from the Institute of Medicine, adult men should drink as much as 13 cups of fluid daily. Women, according to the study should drink nine cups. However, this number differs based on your activity level. For those who are more active, it is necessary to replace more of the fluids you are losing. For those who are larger or those who are pregnant or nursing, those are other reasons to add more fluids. More so, if you take medications, drinking more than this average is necessary to ensure the medications make it into your body.

Is It Possible to Drink Too Much?

It may not sound possible to drink too much water, but it can happen. There is a risk of hyponatremia, which occurs when your body takes in more fluid than it is losing through sweat. This is serious and can lead to swelling. Symptoms include headaches, muscle spasms and confusion. In extreme conditions, it can lead to seizures or even death. Athletes are the most at risk for this happening. It occurs most frequently when a person sweats significantly in one stint and then does not urinate enough or does not eat but drinks a significant amount of water.

Monitoring Health

It is best to focus on the average provided and to adjust based on your size and your activity level. If you are an athlete or someone who is getting a significant amount of exercise each day, it is a good idea to drink electrolyte replacement fluids. These are more readily available in the sport’s drink aisle. However, too much sports drink is not good for you either. Some experts warn that the sports beverage industry has pushed and promoted the concept of drinking a lot of water or fluid to promote its products.

What should you do? Know your body and its needs. Avoid instances when you feel thirsty, as that is the first stage of dehydration. Most children should not consume sports drinks, but adults getting a vigorous workout can. Keep it in moderation, though. It is also a good idea to speak to your doctor about any symptoms you may feel especially after a workout. Otherwise, focus on drinking cups – not 21-ounce glasses – of water each day. How much you drink needs to reflect your activity level beyond the recommendations listed.

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