Water is so important to the health of our cells and the function of our organs yet many Americans are chronically dehydrated. On average, a person loses about 2 liters of water per day through their lungs, their skin, and their urine. This number goes up in hot or humid weather and with physical exertion.
Signs of dehydration include fatigue, headache, dizziness upon standing or sitting-up, difficulty concentrating, dry skin, dark urine, constipation or hard stools, irritable mood, muscle cramps, thirsty, and dry mouth.
Your body is 60-70% water. It is so important for removing waste products, balancing your temperature, transporting oxygen and nutrients, and keeping your eyes, mouth, hair, skin, joints and intestines hydrated. Every system you have depends on an adequate intake to keep things running smoothly.
The color of urine should be light to pale yellow with sufficient water intake. Once it begins to turn dark yellow (in the absence of B-vitamins) you are running low.
Another quick test is to rest your hand on a flat surface such as your desk palm down. Pinch the skin between your thumb and first finger and hold it for 3 seconds before releasing. Does it snap back or does it take awhile to go down? The longer it takes to smooth out, the more dehydrated you are. Additionally, once you begin to feel thirsty you are already low on water.
Caffeinated and alcoholic drinks do not count towards your daily water intake. Both tend to dehydrate you and increase your urination. Read labels as some of the water filled with vitamins are also filled with sugar! You don’t need sugar in your water. If you do need something, add a little lemon, lime, cucumber or orange slice to spice up the taste.
So how much water do you really need? According to the Mayo Clinic, just to replace what you lose in a day requires 2 liters, or about 8 glasses of 8 ounces per day. This number goes up in warmer temperatures, on days that you exercise/exert yourself, or if you are pregnant/breastfeeding. If you haven’t been consistently hitting your 8 then you are probably dehydrated.
Not every medical condition can support 8 glasses of water per day. Talk with your healthcare practitioner if you have concerns about your kidneys.