We often hear the generalized water intake rule of needing eight 8oz cups of water a day. It’s a quick approximation that is easy to remember. But there are many factors that play into your water intake needs on a day to day basis. So how much water do you really need is a complicated question to answer, and many of the factors involved are constantly changing. Let’s look at some of the factors that affect your water needs.
1. The human body is made up of approximately 60% water. The water needs of a person weighing 200lbs are greater than for a person weighing 100lbs.
2. With rigorous exercise you lose body fluids and essential electrolytes, making hydration a top priority to keep your muscles from cramping. Along with sweating, increased respiratory rate also causes rapid loss of fluid. On average a person loses 0.8-1.4 litres per hour of exercise, so drink up.
3. Temperature and humidity will both affect the amount of fluids lost to perspiration and respiration, so both should be factored in.
4. Higher altitude causes increased respiratory rates since the oxygen levels are lower. Also, humidity levels tend to be low so you’re less likely to notice fluid lost from perspiration. So, if you’re planning a trip to somewhere at a high altitude, make sure to factor extra fluid needs into your plans.
5. Alcohol intake. Alcohol intake causes increased urination, the resulting dehydration is often the biggest cause of hangover symptoms. The best way to deal with this is to drink plenty of water and ensure you’re hydrated.
6. Pregnancy/Breastfeeding. Water needs are much higher for both pregnant and nursing moms. If you think of it, you are literally drinking for 2.
7. Other Causes. While vomiting and diarrhea clearly can cause rapid dehydration, there are many other illnesses that affect the body’s need for water. Diabetes for example causes excessive urination and in turn, extreme thirst.
The best way to ensure you’re getting enough water is simple; just listen to your thirst. But if you’re looking for a good personal guideline of what exactly your water needs are, do a quick and simply survey to find out. My personal favourite is the Hydration Calculator that’s found on About.com, as it’s one of the few hydration calculators that go beyond simple weight and exercise.
The best choice of fluid for hydration is water. Considering how high our body’s water needs are, ensure that the water you drink is the purest possible by using a home water filter.