Water, water everywhere but how much do you really need? The question of how much water is needed for adequate hydration is one that has more answers than many other nutrition related questions. The answer to the question is very simple.
In two thousand four the Institute of Medicine assessed hydration status by reviewing research studies and food and nutrition surveys. The IOM stated that the vast majority of healthy people adequately meet their hydration needs by letting thirst guide them. The IOM did not set exact requirements but set recommendations for women at about ninety one ounces of fluids per day and for men one hundred and twenty five ounces per day. The recommendations also stated that all fluids count so water, milk, coffee, tea and soft drinks count to body hydration. In addition to fluids, the fluid content of fruits and vegetables also count in the day’s intake. The IOM report stated that about 80% of fluid intake comes from beverages and 20% from foods. So how much fluid do you need?
A good place to start is with about eight cups (8 oz each) of water and other water based beverages. Take note of how you feel, are you thirsty, what is the frequency of urination and is your urine color too yellow? If you answered postively to these questions it maybe time to boost your fluid intake. While guidelines recommend fluid intake levels how much you need depends on your body so assessing your intake is the best place to begin the determination of how much you need.
These new guidelines are for adequate hydration so more fluids are needed during physical activity or with weather extremes. As temperatures deviate from the ideal temperature for body functions the amount of fluid needed increases so the hotter or colder it gets the more fluids needed. In addition to these two examples more fluids are needed during pregnancy and lactation or when sick with a fever, diarrhea or vomiting.
Adequate fluid intake is important to the overall functioning of the body with fluids playing a role in regulation of body temperature, transportation of nutrients and oxygen, elimination of waste products, moisturizing body tissues and serving as the main part of all body fluids.
While all fluids count towards your daily need not all fluids are equal in terms of calories or sometimes in terms of nutrition. Water is the best choice for hydration since it supplies no calories, no caffeine, (a stimulant) and it has no sodium or fat. Juice and milk are next best choices since they offer a wide variety of vitamins and minerals but they do contribute calories so they shouldn’t be the source of all your fluid needs.
Tips for the Week
· Take count of your fluid intake to determine if you need more
· Assess how much water you drink versus other beverages to see if calorie beverages need to be reduced
· Drink water before, during and after a workout
· Limit sports drinks to workouts that last longer than 45 minutes in order to keep calories down