It’s the age-old question: how much water should you drink a day?  But sadly the answer isn’t quite as black and white as the old eight glasses theory. According to the current Australian dietary guidelines you should be drinking “plenty” of water every day but if you want a more definitive answer then you need to look at factors including your sex, body type, age, diet and how much exercise you do.

How many litres of water should you drink a day?

The human body is made up of 50 to 75 per cent water, and while we can survive weeks without food, without water the body will start to shut down within days.

The Better Health website recommends as a general rule for women you should drink 2.1 litres, which is approximately 8 cups, and men should drink 2.6 litres which is approximately 10 cups.

Why does the intake differ for men and women?

The body’s water content is higher in men than in women and as we get older this reduces dramatically, which is why we need to drink more to replenish it as we age.

Body size and metabolism also affect how much water is required, and men in general also lose more than women per day, eg through perspiration.

What is the recommended daily water intake?

According to Better Health website, we need the following approximate intake daily (in litres):

  • infants 0–6 months – 0.7 l (from breastmilk or formula)
  • infants 7–12 months – 0.9 l (from breastmilk, formula and other foods and drinks)
  • children 1–3 years – 1.0 l (about 4 cups)
  • children 4–8 years – 1.2 l (about 5 cups)
  • girls 9–13 years – 1.4 l (about 5-6 cups)
  • boys 9–13 years – 1.6 l (about 6 cups)
  • girls 14–18 years – 1.6 l (about 6 cups)
  • boys 14–18 years – 1.9 l (about 7-8 cups)
  • women – 2.1 l (about 8 cups)
  • men – 2.6 l (about 10 cups).

For those who are highly active, on specific diets, pregnant women, those who live in warmer climates, breastfeeding women or those who have been ill might need to increase these numbers. You should always consult with your doctor for specific recommendations to you.

What are the benefits of drinking water?

Well outside of the obvious, survival, the benefits to drinking H2O are huge.

In terms of health, water is vital for every cell in your body, from your blood to your bones and of course the externals: skin, hair, nails.

Water also helps the body eliminate toxins, regulate body temperate, lubricate your joints, aids digestion and urination, to name but a few.

The most obvious benefits are the ones you both feel; your body will feel tired and lethargic without adequate water, and the ones you can see; your skin and complexion will appear clearer and fresher when you’re drinking enough water.

What are the dangers of not drinking enough water?

As mentioned above, water is vital for our survival, without proper water intake the body can come dehydrated and can lead to more severe complications including kidney stones and urinary tract infections.

Excessive water intake can also be a problem but generally speaking this is rare, speak with your doctor if you are concerned.