Drinking the amount of water that the body needs every day is an essential condition for good health. Water, present in the human body in more than 65% of its composition, is essential for the development of vital functions and the different activities, physical and mental, that we carry out.
We know that through perspiration and urine we lose essential fluids, which must be replenished to maintain the fundamental water balance, but what is not so clear is how many liters of water to drink per day, because there is no exact amount. and identical for all people.
How much water to drink a day
There are several factors that determine the ideal amount of liquids that we should drink daily, but, as a starting point, we must remember that the World Health Organization (WHO) 1 indicates a figure that ranges as a recommended amount of water per day. between 1.5 and 2 liters. Other organizations, such as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) 2 raise the figure to 2.5 – 3 liters per day.
It must be insisted that there is no specific rule that establishes ideal amounts, not even the popular rule of 8 glasses a day is applicable to the entire population. Age, body weight, sex, the physical activity that is carried out, even the environmental temperature, which will make us sweat losing more or less water, are particular key circumstances when it comes to knowing how many liters of water we need daily.
It is also important to make it clear that not only the water ingested must be taken into account, but also the contribution in total liquids that our diet supposes. Fruits, vegetables, juices, infusions, soft drinks or isotonic drinks… through them we ingest water, so our physical condition and lifestyle will be the factors that determine water needs. It is evident that a young athlete will not require the same amount as an adult who leads a sedentary life.
To give you an idea, the EFSA indicates a series of quantities that can serve as a reference:
- For children aged 1 to 8 years between 0.9 and 1.6 liters/day. Logically, the smallest will require the smallest amounts and these will increase as they grow.
- For children and adolescents (9 – 13 years), 2 – 2.1 liters for men and 1.9 liters for women.
- For adults (over 14 years old) the Agency determines 2 liters for women and 2.5 for men.
In addition, we must bear in mind specific needs that may arise in certain periods of life. For example, pregnant or lactating women may require larger amounts, ranging even from 2.5 to 3 liters per day. For their part, older people also need to be properly hydrated by drinking between 1.5 and 2 liters of water daily, despite the fact that on many occasions they do not feel the need to drink, a circumstance that entails a significant risk of dehydration.
How to know if you drink enough water
It is enough to pay attention to the signals that the organism itself sends to cover our daily water needs. Although it is obvious, the sensation of thirst is the best tool we have to drink water whenever necessary and thus keep ourselves well hydrated. Even so, sometimes we can believe that the number of fluids we drink is correct despite the fact that, without realizing it, it is being insufficient.
We must pay attention to the symptoms that may indicate that we are not drinking all the necessary liquids. A simple way to know if we drink enough water is to observe the frequency of urination and the color of urine. A healthy adult urinates an average of 6-8 times a day. A number below 4 could be a sign that you are not getting enough water. In addition, the color of the urine must be pale yellow, since, if it appears cloudy or too dark, it could also be a symptom of dehydration (in addition to possible pathologies).
Dry skin or low skin turgor is also one of the warning signs of possible insufficient fluid intake. Do the test. Pinch the skin on the back of your hand or forearm and see if it snaps back into place quickly. If so, you are well hydrated, however, if the skin does not recover its shape immediately, because it lacks elasticity, it is likely that you need to drink a larger amount of water every day. We recommend the article on good foods for dry skin.
Obvious symptoms are also the sensation of a dry or pasty mouth, the absence of tears when crying (for example, in babies and young children) or dark circles under the eyes.
Finally, some ailments such as fatigue, dizziness, muscle cramps or frequent headaches may be related to a low intake of water.
How to drink more water during the day
There is no need to become obsessed and think that you should be drinking water constantly, but if you think that your fluid intake is insufficient, increasing it is easy with some tricks such as:
Always have a bottle of water on hand so you can drink at the first sign of thirst. Sometimes we postpone drinking water so as not to interrupt the activity we are doing (reading, computer), something that is counterproductive.
If you are one of those who almost never feel thirsty, set small resolutions such as, for example, drink a glass of water just when you wake up, have juices for breakfast, have another glass of water half an hour before eating, one at snack, as well as an infusion and one before bed. If you establish this simple plan, you will already be drinking a good amount of the liquids you need on a daily basis.