How Much Fluid Do We Really Need?

During these “dog days of summer” one wonders how much water is enough.

As you may have guessed, water needs will vary depending on the temperature, humidity, how much you weigh, as well as exercise intensity and duration.  During hot and humid weather, or when physically working hard in a hot environment, it is easy to become dehydrated. If dehydration isn’t corrected, it is possible to get a heat stroke, which requires immediate treatment by a medical provider to bring body temperature down.  Symptoms of a heat stroke can include nausea, vomiting, flushed or reddened skin, rapid breathing and heart rate, headache, changes in sweating or mental state or behavior, and a body temperature of 104 degrees or above. Even mild dehydration can make you feel tired and can drain your energy.

Keeping in mind fluid needs will vary from person to person and with environmental changes, the National Academy of Sciences determined that an adequate daily fluid intake with average temperatures, is 12.4 cups per day for men and just over 9 cups per day for women.  This intake does not include what is consumed through fruits or vegetables, which normally accounts for 20% of a person’s intake.  All fluid sources can contribute, though water is best as it is readily available, calorie-free, and inexpensive.

Some signs to gauge whether one’s fluid intake are adequate, according to the Mayo Clinic:

  1. Color of the urine. It should be colorless or light yellow.

  2. Whether thirst is present.