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How Much Water Do You Really Need to Drink?

Eight glasses of water a day – that’s what we’re all supposed to be drinking every day, right? For some folks, this is no big deal. But for others, it’s a pretty tall order. If you find it challenging to down the recommended 2 liters of water a day, I have good news: the 8-glass-a-day rule is a myth.

Well, perhaps it’s more of a misunderstanding. It’s true that, under normal circumstances, you lose about two liters of water a day via perspiration, elimination, and breathing. High temperatures, dry air (such as on long flights), and extended bouts of exercise can dramatically increase those losses. And certain medications, such as Mucinex, can also increase your need for fluids.

And it’s also true that you need to replace all the water you lose in order to avoid becoming dehydrated. However, drinking water is not the only way to do that.

Almost all foods contain some water, and certain foods, such as fruits and vegetables, contain a lot of water. Most people take in a liter or so of water just from the foods they eat. And if you eat a lot of fruits and vegetables (which I hope you do), you probably take in a good deal more. Beverages other than water (including coffee and tea) also replenish your water reserves.

Although you can certainly drink 8 glasses of water a day if you choose, you probably don’t need to drink anywhere near that much to meet your body’s water requirements.

That said, there are lots of good reasons to drink plenty of water. Drinking water before and during meals can help you avoid overeating by making your stomach feel fuller. Getting plenty of fluids can also help keep you regular – and that’s especially important if you take fiber supplements or eat a high fiber diet. Water is also a much better choice than sweetened beverages, which have been linked to weight gain and other health risks. If you don’t like the taste of water, try filtering it, or make spa water infused with fruit. Drinking more water can even help boost your intake of important minerals like calcium and magnesium. Water can actually contain a significant amount of these minerals, although it varies by locale.

As for signs of dehydration, if your urine is darker than ginger ale, you probably need to be drinking more water. One caveat though: high dose vitamin supplements can cause technicolor urine, which is not a sign of dehydration. Even if the 8-glass-a-day rule is a bit of a misinterpretation, drinking lots of water is a healthy habit that anyone can swallow!