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Image of a man pouring a glass of water

Do you really need 8 glasses of water a day?

Water makes up 60% of our body weight, which is why keeping an eye on our daily intake is vital. Here Dr Sarah Brewer brings you the lowdown on proper hydration.

How much water should I drink per day?

You've probably heard the suggestion that eight glasses of water per day will keep you well-hydrated. While this is a good amount to aim for, your individual needs vary depending on how much exercise you do, where you live and your general health and wellbeing.

If you do a lot of exercise you'll need to compensate the water you lose through sweating by drinking more. And if you're exercising intensively for more than an hour, it's a good idea to replace the minerals in your blood that you lose through sweating (electrolytes). The same goes for when you're holidaying - or living - in a hot and humid climate where you'll be sweating more than if you were somewhere cooler. If this is the case make sure to top up on fluids more frequently.

Certain illnesses will also affect your hydration. If diarrhoea or a sickness bug has left you feeling weak and feeble it's partly because your body is de-hydrated. Medical professionals often suggest an increased water intake for urinary tract infections and urinary tract stones.

In terms of how much water the average Brit should aim to consume per day, The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine suggest an adequate daily fluid intake is:

  • About 3.7 litres (3700ml) per day for men
  • About 2.7 litres (2700ml) per day for women

Benefits of water

If you think about it every human body is made up of 60% water… which means staying hydrated is crucial for your survival.

Your cells, your bodily tissue and your organs all rely on water to keep functioning normally and a lack of fluids can result in a lack of energy, so make sure to keep topping up throughout the day.

There's all sorts of benefits that come with drinking plenty of water including:

  • Regulation of temperature
  • Cushioning of your joints
  • Keeps you urinating regularly which in turn gets rid of unwanted waste

It's not just water that keeps you hydrated

It's easy to think that staying hydrated revolves around your eight glasses of water per day when in fact a significant amount of it can be found in food. About 20 percent of your daily fluid intake actually comes from foods like spinach or watermelon which are both almost 100 percent water by weight. It's also easy to forget things like tea, coffee and milk which also contribute to you daily water intake. So staying hydrated means eating lots of fruit and vegetables every day too, an added bonus for your health and wellbeing!

Dr Sarah Brewer is Healthspan's Medical Director and holds degrees in Natural Sciences, Surgery and Medicine from the University of Cambridge. Having worked as a GP and hospital doctor, Dr Sarah now holds an MSc in Nutritional Medicine from the University of Surrey and specialises in nutrition. She is also an award-winning writer and author.

Find out more at Dr. Sarah Brewer's website, or read more about Healthspan's health experts.

Nothing beats a healthy, balanced diet to provide all the nutrients we need. But when this isn’t possible, supplements can help. This article isn’t intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying supplements or herbal medicines.