Woman at home pouring water

H2O: Are You Getting Enough?

Man filling a glass of water from the sink.During a hot summer day after you’ve spent some time outside in the sun, it seems natural to chug down a glass of water. It’s refreshing and it’s what your body craves. But what about on a daily basis? How much water should you drink throughout the day?

Water consumption plays a big role in our health and wellness, so it’s important to know how much to drink, why it matters and how to increase your intake if you’re not getting enough.

How Much Water Is Enough?

The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is:

  • For women — 11.5 cups or 92 ounces
  • For men — 15.5 cups or 124 ounces

Of course, this is just a general guideline. If you exercise a lot or live in a hot or humid climate, you may need more water. Remember too, that other liquids such as tea, juice and milk can count toward your daily goals. Hydrating foods count as well. Researchers believe that about 20% of our water intake comes from the foods we eat.

Why Does Water Intake Matter?

Water plays a big role in our health and wellness. Water consumption helps to:

  • Maintain our body temperature
  • Lubricate our joints and muscles
  • Get rid of waste in our bodies
  • Flush toxins
  • Absorb nutrients
  • Create saliva
  • Transport oxygen to our cells
  • Keep our skin healthier
  • Fill us up without additional calories

When we don’t drink enough water, we can become dehydrated. Dehydration can cause:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Muscle cramps
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin

Anyone can become dehydrated, but certain people are at greater risk, including infants, young children, people who work or exercise outdoors, and older adults.

How Can I Tell if I’m Drinking Enough Water?

With a few simple changes to your daily habits, you can ensure you’re getting enough water to make your body feel great!

Usually, if you’re really thirsty, it’s your body’s way of telling you that it’s dehydrated. You can also check the color of your urine. If you’re properly hydrated, it should be light in color and odorless. When your body doesn’t get enough fluid, it can be dark in color and have a distinct odor. Your health care provider can help you determine a good target based on your lifestyle.

How Can I Increase My Water Intake?

Woman preparing lemon and mint flavored water.If you’re ready to try to increase your water intake as a part of your health and wellness routine, here are some tips:

  • Start your day with a glass of water. When you wake up, drink a glass of water. This can help your body rehydrate from the night before and gets you off to a great start. Consider placing a full glass next to your bed and drinking it as a part of your morning routine.
  • Set a goal. If you have a goal in mind, you’re more likely to try to reach it each day. There are free water-tracking apps you can download to your phone, and some fitness watches allow you to track your water intake as well. Of course, you can also just rely on your memory.
  • Make it a habit. Set certain times when you can incorporate water into your day and after a while, it will become a habit. For example, you can have one glass when you wake up, one during each meal and one while you exercise.
  • Flavor it. If you find it tough to drink enough water because it’s tasteless or you don’t enjoy it, consider adding flavor to help. Add a slice of lemon or lime. Or get even fancier. Add fruits and herbs to your water and let it infuse with flavor. Try strawberry and basil, cucumber and mint, or lemon and ginger. MyPlate offers several fun recipes for flavored water.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables. Many fruits and vegetables contain a lot of water. If you’re getting your five servings a day, chances are you’re getting a good amount of water too. Foods such as cucumbers, watermelon, strawberries, lettuce, spinach, celery and oranges all contain a good amount of water. The National Library of Medicine offers a chart for foods with high amounts of water to add to your diet.
  • Carry it with you everywhere. Having water in your car or your bag at all times can help you remember to take sips during your commute to work, while running errands and throughout the day. Keep a glass on your desk while you work and next to you when you relax for the evening.
  • Pair it with a reward. If you’re a soda drinker, or if you know you’re going to have an alcoholic drink or a dessert, pair it with water. Drink a glass of water first, then reward yourself.
  • Mix it up. Plain tea, plain coffee, sparkling water, seltzer water and flavored water are good options for when you get bored. They have little to no calories at all. These options may be especially helpful if you often drink sweetened beverages, such as soda, sports drinks or sweet coffee drinks to quench your thirst. You’ll get some of that flavor you’re looking for but without the extra sugar and calories.


You can search online for recipe ideas for flavored water and lots of great options will pop up. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) also offers several great-tasting flavored water recipes.

With a few simple changes to your daily habits, you can ensure you’re getting enough water to make your body feel great!

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