Nutrition Basics: Water

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Water is an important part of your body. In fact, it makes up more than 60 percent of your body weight. Among other functions, water:

• Moistens tissues, such as those around your mouth, eyes, and nose
• Regulates your body temperature
• Cushions your joints
• Helps your body get nutrients
• Flushes out waste products

Without water, you would die in a few days. So it’s important that you get enough water. But how much water is enough? Experts generally recommend that you drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid every day (although everyone’s needs are different). But it doesn’t have to be all water. You could satisfy some of your fluid needs by drinking other liquids. Just remember that juice, sodas and milk are high in sugar. Many fruit and vegetables, such as watermelon and tomatoes, are also mostly water.

If you’re being physically active, sweating a lot, or if the weather is hot, you’ll need more fluid. Women who are pregnant and breastfeeding also have increased fluid needs.

It’s generally not a good idea to use thirst alone as a guide for when to drink. By the time you’re thirsty, you may already be a bit dehydrated. On the other hand, you don’t need to be constantly carrying around water bottles and drinking lots of water. You are probably getting all the fluid you need if you are rarely thirsty and you produce a little more than six cups of colorless or slightly yellow urine a day. Dark urine can be a signal that you need more fluid. So drink up and stay hydrated!