DoYouReallyNeed Eight Glasses of Water a Day?

By Dr. Joseph Mercola
with Rachael Droege

How many of you have heard that we are dehydrated and need to drink at
least eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day? I know that is what I have
traditionally been exposed to. I used to advise that people follow an even
more refined rule of thumb--for every 50 pounds of body weight you carry,
drink one quart of spring or filtered water per day. This would increase
daily water intake to 12 to 16 glasses for most of us.

However, after awhile I began to question this and I further refined my
recommendations to use the color of your urine as a guide to how much water
you should be drinking. As long as you are not taking riboflavin (vitamin
B2), which fluoresces and turns your urine bright yellow (it is also in
most multi-vitamins), then your urine should be a very light-colored
yellow. If it is a deep yellow then you are likely not drinking enough

So I was delighted to read in my Family Practice Newspaper that an
Institute of Medicine Panel actually reached the same rational conclusion.
They rejected the conventional wisdom that people need to drink eight
glasses of water a day and concluded that on a daily basis people get
enough water from normal drinking behavior, such as drinking beverages at
meals and in other social situations, and by letting their thirst guide
them. (and their urine.)

This is not to say that getting enough water isnít important. We can exist
without food for months, but without water we can only survive for a few
days. Your body is made up mostly of water, which:

* Is essential for digestion, nutrient absorption and elimination
* Aids circulation
* Helps control the body's temperature
* Lubricates and cushions joints
* Keeps the skin healthy
* Helps remove toxins from your body

Every day you lose water from the body through urine and sweat, and this
fluid needs to be replenished. However, your body has come equipped with a
mechanism that tells you when you need to replenish your supply--itís
called thirst!

Let Your Thirst be Your Guide

When your body begins to lose from 1 percent to 2 percent of its total
water, your thirst mechanism lets you know that itís time to drink some
water. If you are healthy, then drinking whenever you feel thirsty should
be an adequate guide of how much water you need. You can confirm whether
you are drinking enough water by looking at the color of your urine, as
mentioned above.

Of course, if itís hot outside or you are engaged in exercise or other
vigorous activity, you will require more water than normal so be sure to
stay well hydrated in these cases. Additionally, as we grow older our
thirst mechanism works less efficiently so older adults will want to be
sure to drink water regularly, and again make sure their urine is a light,
pale color.

Donít Overlook Water Quality

Perhaps the question we should have been asking for so long is not how much
water should we be drinking, but what type of water should we be drinking?
The answer is clean, spring water and filtered water--I do not recommend
drinking tap water or distilled water. Contrary to the traditional belief,
itís also important to avoid fluoridated water.

One of the most important steps you should take for your own health and the
health of your family is to ensure the safety of your tap water supply.
This will help you to determine what type of filter you need to make sure
your water is free from heavy metals, bacteria and other harmful

The reason why filtering your own water is so important is because you
really want to avoid bottled water unless it is absolutely necessary as it
is a huge strain on the environment. Plus, some bottled water may not be
any cleaner than tap water. On a side note, remember to avoid storing your
water in typical Nalgene bottles as they can leach an unsafe chemical
called BPA into your water. I recently switched to the high-density
polyethelene (HDPE) Nalgene bottles, which appear to be safer, to store my
water when I go on trips and cannot use a glass bottle.
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