Ask a Tahoe Health Professional
February 8, 2017
Question: What is the proper amount of water to consume in a day? We've all heard the classic minimum eight glasses a day, but lately I've been hearing/reading much different info based on gender, age and altitude.
Answer: When it comes to how much water you should drink every day the real answer is: it depends. Despite the common advice reminding us to drink eight glasses a day or more, there are no good studies that can give us an exact amount of water that is right for everyone.
For the average healthy person, you should drink enough water to stay hydrated and keep your urine light colored (slightly darker yellow urine first thing in the morning is OK). For each person this will be different and may vary day to day, depending on a number of factors.
Let's take Rosie, for example: Rosie is a 35-year-old healthy woman with no history of heart or kidney disease. On an average day she might need eight glasses of water to stay hydrated and keep her urine light yellow. However, if she has the flu, is skiing Tallac, or hiking the Rim Trail in the hot sun, she'll likely need a lot more water to keep up. Certainly any adventure at higher elevation will require that you drink more water than if you were doing the same thing at sea level.
Fortunately, in addition to watching the color of our urine, our bodies are designed to feel thirsty when you need to drink more water; drinking more than you actually need will only lead you to urinate more. In addition to thirst, other signs of dehydration include fatigue, dizziness and headache.
Of course, if you have heart disease, kidney disease, or are on certain medications, your doctor may have different recommendations. He or she may recommend restricting your water intake, drinking more than the average person needs, or may give you a different way of monitoring your own water intake. Always check with your doctor first in these cases.
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