How much water should you drink in a day?

You may have heard that the answer to that question is 8 cups every day. The fact is, our total water intake depends on our age, gender and activity level. 

Water is an important nutrient. It helps to control our body temperature and protect our joints and organs. The DRI (Dietary Reference Intakes) tells us information on the amount of each nutrient, including water, that we should consume for good health. They state that the total water intake for adult men is 3 L (12 cups) and for adult women it is 2.2 L (9 cups)  each day. You should keep in mind that your water requirements are going to be higher in hot, humid weather and when you are more active.

Drinking water is an easy way and the best way to help meet your total water intake recommendations but we also get water from other drinks like milk, coffee and tea and from foods. Did you know some vegetables and fruit are up to 95% water – eating them helps you meet you water needs –another reason to eat more from this food group!

I find it challenging to stay hydrated especially during hot, humid weather. Some of the strategies that I use to make sure I meet my fluid needs are bringing a water bottle to work. 

I find it very helpful to drink a glass of water or other beverage during each meal time, first thing in the morning and before I go to bed. We can become dehydrated even before signs appear. Sometimes our brain needs reminders so I would suggest posting a picture or sign in your office space to help remind you to drink more fluids!

 If you want a change from plain water, flavour it occasionally by adding some fruit or vegetables  like slices of lemon, orange, cucumber or strawberries or some herbs like mint. Keep in mind though, that the acid in some fruit like lemons, limes and oranges can be just as harmful to your teeth as the acid in pop so adding acid containing fruit to your water and sipping it all day long is not recommended. 

A tip to help you determine if you are hydrated is the colour of your urine. If your urine is light yellow and clear like lemonade it usually means that you are getting enough to drink. Dark yellow, strong smelling urine is a sign of dehydration. It is common for your urine to be dark yellow first thing in the morning. Multivitamins and other medications can alter the colour of your urine therefore it may not be an accurate marker of your hydration status.

Recommendations for children and teenagers are a little different. See the following link for further information on how much fluid your child should drink in a day.

Kristen Di Lullo, BSc.
Dietetic Intern
Kristen is a graduate from Brescia University College. She is currently completing her dietetic internship with London Health Sciences Centre to become a dietitian. As part of her internship program, she spent four weeks at the Perth District Health Unit expanding her knowledge and experience in public health.

Photos taken by Katherine Di Lullo and Shannon Edmonstone