Water. It’s essential for life. The average adult body is approximately 55-60% water! But WHY is it so important? Not only does body water play a role in maintaining your internal body temperature, but it also plays an essential role in transporting nutrients and removing waste within your body to support optimal health. We lose water throughout the day, so it is important to ensure we make up for those losses by taking in more water.
But how much water do we really need? You’ve probably heard the saying “drink 8 glasses of water a day”, but does this general recommendation apply to everyone? What if you’re doing intense physical activity? What if it’s really humid out? Truth is, there’s not a lot of science behind how individuals should be hydrating. With what we currently know based on previous scientific research, an Adequate Intake (AI) level has been established for water intake. This number was determined based on the average intake of total water from study participants. The Adequate Intake refers to the amount of water you should be taking in each day to prevent dehydration.
Adequate Intake for Water:
Women (ages 19-30): 2.7 L per day
Men (ages 19-30): 3.7 L per day
Something important: these recommendations are for total water intake, meaning if you are a woman between 19 and 30, you want to aim for 2.7 L of water a day from drinking water, other beverages, and food! We get about 20% of our daily water from food, so the amount that we actually drink, whether it’s from water itself or other beverages, is slightly lower. Women should drink about 2.2 L (about 9 cups) a day and men should drink about 3.0 L (about 13 cups) a day.
Many of the beverages we drink have water in them. Milk, juice, sports drinks, sodas, coffee, and even beer all have a water content and will contribute somewhat to hydration throughout the day. Keep in mind that juice, soda and sports drinks may also have added sugar and salt, so your best choice for healthy hydration is water – it’s calorie free, after all!
So here’s the big take away from all the science. Currently, we only have recommendations based on the averages from research. The reality is, each individual will have slightly different hydration needs based on their exact body composition, creating a range of fluid intakes for the population. Follow the fluid AI as a general recommendation, but the best way to tell if you are meeting your individual needs is when you pass fluids (…you know what I mean). If it’s pale yellow in colour, you’re doing fine.
So go ahead, drink up!