Adults bodies are made up of about 60% water. With that said, it’s not surprising to know that water is one of the most essential nutrients in the body. Water is used to keep the body hydrated and prevent it from drying out. Water is also used to control body temperature, help flush the body of toxins, and is the main component of blood, which carries nutrients through the body. So knowing how to stay hydrated is one of the most important things you can do for your health!
Typically, healthy adults are aware of the signs and cues of when they are thirsty or when they need to drink. However, children often are not able to recognize when they are thirsty and need to be reminded when to drink.
How much water should my family and I drink?
The Institute of Medicine of the National Academics lays out the recommended amount of water that children should consume from ages 4-18 years. (1)
For adults, a basic recommendation is to take your weight in pounds, divide by two, and that is about how many ounces an adult should drink in a day.
While these numbers are basic recommendations, everybody is different and may need more or less water depending on a number of different things:
Exercise- If you are sweating doing an activity that makes you sweat, you need to drink water to replace the water that you lost through sweat. (Sports drinks should be used only when exercising for more than an hour. These drinks help replace electrolytes lost through sweat and sugar needed for energy during longer times of activity.)
Environment- Hot or humid weather causes you to sweat and requires you to drink more water in order to replace the water lost through sweating.
Overall Health- If you are sick, vomiting, or have diarrhea, you will need to drink more water to replace the water lost.
Pregnancy or breastfeeding- Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding need additional fluids to stay hydrated. The Office on Women's Health recommends that pregnant women drink about 10 cups (2.4 liters) of fluids daily and women who breast-feed consume about 13 cups (3.1 liters) of fluids a day. (2)
Tips to get your child to drink more water
Offer water at every meal
Pack a water bottle for your child to bring to school or when you leave the house
Offer water in colorful cups or water bottles
Add fruit to water to change the flavor and increase variety.
Be a positive influence! Drink water around your children
Try different temperatures of water: room temperature, adding ice cubes, or even offering warm water during colder days.
While water is the best choice to keep your family hydrated, all fluids can contribute to hydration. Better choices for fluids to keep your family hydrated would be water and milk. Keep in mind that some drinks like juice and sweetened beverages like soda have sugar that contain calories that do not fill up your child and do not contain many nutrients that are needed for healthy growth. While small 4oz portions of juice are a good way to include fruit into your child’s diet, limit fruit juice consumption to 4oz a day and promote eating more fresh fruit.
While the number of glasses of water your child needs a day may seem high, the total amount of water that you need also includes water that you eat through the day.
Yes, you can eat water!
Almost all foods have water in them, but some foods have a higher amount of water than others. Think juicy foods like watermelon, cucumber, cantaloupe, strawberries, celery, tomatoes, oranges, bell pepper, yogurt, milk, peaches, lettuce, pineapples, soups and sauces, the list goes on and on. Typically, about 20 percent of your fluids in a day usually comes from food.
(2) Mayo Clinic