Are You Drinking Enough Water? How Much You Need & How To Know if You Need More

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We’ve all heard the classic rule — “Drink 8 glasses of water per day” — But is that a one size fits all recommendation?  The short answer is no.  Everyone’s body is different, and depending on our diet and activity level, we all need different amounts of water to keep our body functioning at it’s best.

So how much water do you really need?

Think about how much water we use and lose in one day through breathing, perspiration, urination, and bowel movements.  Because we use and lose all of this water during the day, it’s important to replenish our body’s water supply.  The Institute of Medicine suggests that men need about 13 cups (3 liters) of water a day, while women need about 9 cups (2.2 liters) of water a day.

So how can you know if you’re getting enough water?  Below are 5 signs that your body may be craving more.

You have a headache

Did you know that one of the leading causes of headaches is dehydration?

Our brains are 80% water. When you become dehydrated your brain tissue starts to lose one of it’s most important assets — water.  It is believed that this loss of water may cause the brain to “shrink” (because of loss of moisture) and partially pull away from the skull.  Pain receptors surrounding the brain are then triggered, causing you to experience a headache.  In addition to this response, dehydration can also cause your blood volume to drop.  When this happens, the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain is reduced.  In response to this reduction, the blood vessels in the brain dilate, which worsens the headache.

You Have Dry Skin and/or a Ruddy Complexion

Some people have underlying (dietary or genetic) issues that can cause dry skin, but if you haven’t been diagnosed with any of these conditions and suddenly start to experience dry skin and/or a ruddy complexion, it could be a sign of dehydration.  Try upping your water intake and see if that fixes the problem.  You may find that your skin becomes less dry and more supple when you provide it with an extra boost of H₂0.

You Experience Constipation

Water is a key factor in digestion and “moving things along” in our colon.  If you’re not supplying your body with adequate water, you could suffer from bouts of constipation and other digestive problems.  If you’ve been having digestive issues, try getting more water throughout the day and see how that changes things.  It’s also important to keep in mind that sodium (aka salt) is a dehydrant.  If you’re getting a high volume of salt through your diet you need to be sure and counteract it’s dehydrating effects by drinking enough water as well.

You Have a decrease in urine output

How often do you urinate?  Is it between 4 to 7 times a day?  This is said to be the average amount of trips people take to the restroom to urinate, but there are a lot of factors that can alter this number.  For instance, if you’re drinking caffeine or alcohol, these substances can cause you to have the urge more frequently.  If you suffer from a bladder condition this can also alter your frequency.  If you’re concerned about dehydration, it’s important to pay attention to how frequently you urinate and what substances you’re drinking.  If you’re urinating 4 to 7 times a day and your urine is a clear to clear yellow color, you’re probably getting enough water.  If not, analyze what you’re eating and drinking and alter your water intake accordingly.

You have a dry mouth and feel thirsty

Okay, this probably seems like the most obvious sign of dehydration, but it’s also the most important, because thirst is one of the last triggers that your body activates when it’s dehydrated.  So what does this mean?  If you’re feeling thirsty you’re probably pretty dehydrated already!  If this is a symptom you’re experiencing, down some water until you’ve had enough to quench your feelings of thirst.

Please keep in mind that I am not a medical doctor and these tips are not meant to diagnose any illness or condition. These symptoms may be a sign of something worse than dehydration, so it’s important to discuss them with your doctor.

Hope you found these tips helpful!

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