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Published: May 3, 2020

How much water should I drink in ounces?

Everywhere you look, you see people carrying their water bottle with them now days, something you didn’t see twenty-years ago.  There exists a long-lived standard stating you should drink eight 8-ounce glasses a day of water know as the 8×8 rule.  Would that make sense that a person who weighs 110 pounds would need to same amount of water as another that weighs 200 pounds?

Science tells us that our body is made up of about 60% water, with some of our organs comprising of even more like the brain is 73%, lungs 83% and even our bones has 31%. Today we are going to examine the science of hydration and answer the question “How much water should I drink in ounces daily”. Before we do that let's stop for a second and talk about the classic warning signs that are indicating you are not getting enough water.


I was not aware of headaches being related to dehydration for years until my wife pointed this out to me one day when I told her I had a headache, she ask me if I had drank enough water.  Normally I would have taken and ibuprofen and drank a glass of water and most of the time my headache would go away.  That day I drank the same glass of water without the pill.  I bet you have already guessed the outcome; sure enough, the headache went away, now the first thing I grab is a glass of water when I have a headache and avoid taking the pill.  

Okay, but why does it cause your head to hurt?  The brain is made up of 73% water and when you become dehydrated, that results in water loss that affects your brain tissue.  Brain shrinkage now occurs causing your headache.  Dehydration also decreases blood flow reducing oxygen to your brain as well.  Therefore, you should grab for a glass of water before reaching for the painkillers.

Dark Urine:

Like most things, there is a science behind the color of your urine and is one of the quickest indicators that you have not consumed enough water. Now this rule is easy to remember the lighter color your urine the more hydrated you are, the darker it is the more dehydrated you have become and you need to drink more water.  Water is what takes away toxins and waste through your kidneys.

Dry Mouth:

One of the early signs that your body is in need of water is your mouth will start to dry out.  This typically can start with dry and cracked lips, a heavy tongue that can stick to the bottom of your mouth along with difficulty swallowing.  Dry mouth is uncomfortable and usually makes people want to drink for that reason; unfortunately, most don’t reach for water as their source for hydration instead reaching for sugar based drinks which is a topic for another article.

Muscle Cramps:

A muscle cramp is an involuntary muscle contraction, meaning that it happened without your control.  The muscle gets smaller and harder by contracting.  This painful event can last several seconds to several minutes causing severe pain. A common cause of this is loss of water in the body through sweating while working out, exercising, or just being out on a hot day.  Your sweat is composed of fluid and electrolytes, when you sweat you are taking away vital materials that your muscles need to function properly.  That’s why staying properly hydrated when you are exercising or working in extreme heat is vital to avoid dehydration. 

Bad Breath:

Before grabbing for another stick of gum there may be another cause for your bad breath issue that the gum may not fix and only slightly cover up.   Dehydration is a cause for bad breath resulting from your mouth being dry, also known as Xerostomia the lack of saliva production in your mouth.  Of course, there are other causes for bad breath but today we are focusing on indicators of dehydration.  When dehydration occurs, it stops saliva production in our mouth allowing bacteria and yeast to develop in and around our tongue, teeth and gums producing a foul smelling odor.

Digestive Issues:

Dehydration affects the amount and strength of the mucus that our stomach needs to aid in the digestion of the food that we eat.  If we have less mucus than needed then there is too much stomach acid present causing heartburn.  When this condition is left unchecked and happens frequently serious damage may result to your digestive system.  Dehydration can lead to constipation caused by the lack of lubrication in our intestines that water provides. 


Now from the list above we should be able to spot the most common signs of dehydration and take action by drinking water when needed.  Here is a thought, rather than waiting for these signs to occur which are painful and hard on our bodies why don’t you take a more proactive approach and drink enough water throughout the day to avoid these issues.  By doing this we avoid the unpleasant pains and side effects mentioned above just by drinking enough water throughout the day.  Let’s look at the question “How Much Water should I Drink in ounces”.


Calculating "How Much Water Should I Drink in ounces"?

After exhausting research I have found the following, there is no consensus from medical experts about how much water should I drink in ounces daily.  The 8x8 rule (being 8-8 ounce glasses daily) is popular but not all doctors agree.  The Mayo clinic quotes that the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine have determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids for men and 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women. 

Then there are many health coaches and personal trainers recommending your daily intake should be .5 ounces of water per 1 pound of body weight (see calculator below to figure yours).  We also have to keep in mind that drinking water is not our only source of this liquid; it is present in other types of drinks and foods as well.

You will have to make up your own mind on what source you want to follow about your daily intake of water.  You have learned about the early signs of dehydration and should consult with your own doctor if you have existing medical conditions or unsure what source of information to trust on this subject.  If you are like me and have trouble, getting enough water daily then you may want to look into the smart water bottles.  These devices remind you to drink by either glowing lights, buzzing or even some bottles have the ability to sync to your smart phone and remind when water is needed

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