Are You Drinking Enough Water?

Glass of drinking water

How much water should you drink each day? The answer is far more complicated than the question itself. People have different water needs; your health, the climate you are in, and your behaviors all influence how much water you should drink each day. Here’s some information to help you know if you’re drinking enough water.

Stay hydrated! Several factors influence the amount of water a person should drink throughout the day. Click To Tweet

How much water should you drink each day?

The 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines do not provide a recommendation for daily fluid intake, or how much water you should drink each day.

Harvard Medical School suggests, “most people need about four to six cups of water each day”, or 32 to 48 ounces of water.

The Mayo Clinic cites The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommendation for a daily fluid intake of 11.5 to 15.5 cups, or 92 to 124 ounces. This includes water, other beverages, and the foods that you eat.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states, “…there is no recommendation for how much plain water adults and youth should drink daily…” This does not mean that water isn’t important, however.

Why is it important to drink water?

Drinking water helps you in many ways:

  • prevents dehydration
  • prevents heat-related illnesses.
  • helps your body function properly
  • helps you manage a healthy weight
  • lubricates and cushion your joints
  • protects your spinal cord
  • helps removes waste from the body
  • improves nutrient absorption
  • normalizes your body temperature
  • aids digestion

You lose fluids when your body gets rid of waste through urination, bowel movements, and sweating. Every cell in your body needs water to function properly, which means that you must replenish the fluids that your body loses.

Where do you get fluids from?

According to the CDC, “Healthy people meet their fluid needs by drinking when thirsty and drinking with meals.” You get some fluids from the foods that you eat. However, most of your daily fluid intake comes from water and other beverages.

Plain water is an excellent choice because it allows you to stay hydrated without adding extra calories to your diet.

Although most people meet their fluid needs on a normal day, there are times when you need to consume more water than you normally drink.

Do you need to drink more water?

Certain factors increase your daily fluid needs. Any time your body loses more fluids than usual, or your body has to work harder to keep cool, you need to drink more water.

Higher temperatures

You need more water when it’s hot outside. Make a point to drink water any time that you are exposed to warm weather and heat.

Exercise and activity

You need more water when you are moving. This includes exercise as well as other activities such as yard work, moving furniture, riding a bike, or playing active games. Drink more water if you are exerting yourself.

Heat and movement

If you’re being active in high temperatures — paddling on the river, hiking, days at the ball field, etc. — you need even more water.

For example, the National Park Service recommends that you drink a gallon (four liters) of water each day if you’re visiting the Grand Canyon in warm weather.


People who are sick may also needs more water, especially if they experience fever, vomiting, or diarrhea. Replenish water to help your body fight off fever and prevent dehydration.


It can be difficult for older adults to sense thirst. Children may not realize they are thirsty, or they may get distracted and not recognize thirst.

Ways to drink more water

If you need to drink more water, start by making it a habit. Choose a reasonable goal (try 32 ounces of plain water), and work to achieve that goal until it’s just a normal part of your day.

Replace sweetened and carbonated beverages with plain water. This eliminates the calories from soda or juice, and the caffeine from coffee, tea, and soda. Even though diet drinks don’t contain calories, they do contain artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners.

Always carry fresh, clean water with you, especially if you are being active, spending time outdoors, or if clean drinking water might not be readily available (road trips, travel, remote locations). It’s easier to drink more water when it is always available.

Learn other ways to drink more water.