Magazine article Work & Family Life

How Much Water Do You Really Need?

Magazine article Work & Family Life

How Much Water Do You Really Need?

Article excerpt

Here's what we know for sure about water. It makes up about 75 percent of an infant's weight and 55 percent of an older person's weight. You can survive for about two months without food but only about seven days without water.

Despite its importance, there's a lot we do not know about how much water is needed, by whom and under what conditions, says Barry M. Popkin, PhD, professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"We do not truly understand how hydration affects health and wellbeing, even the impact of water intakes on chronic disease," Dr. Popkin writes in the journal Nutrition Reviews.

Much of the previous research has been funded by companies that sell beverages, including bottled water. And most of it has been organ-specific-for example, by people studying the kidneys or lungs. "Whole body systems have not been well studied," says Dr. Popkin.

"In most cases, thirst is a reliable signal that more water is needed," writes New York Times Well columnist Jane Brody. "But there are no formal guidelines on how much water people need each day. The amount is affected by what people eat, their weight and activity level and even the environment in which they live. …

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