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You may have heard the advice to get at least eight cups of water a day. It is a bit more complicated than that. The amount of water you need varies on age, activity level and where you live. You may need more, or less, than eight cups a day.

Hydration Health Benefits

Your body needs water to perform nearly all its functions. Keeping your body hydrated provides many health benefits:

· Regulating body temperature

· Improving athletic performance

· Boosting concentration and mood

Drinking enough water throughout the day is important because you lose water when you breath, sweat, and urinate. You will become dehydrated when you don’t drink enough. Dehydration keeps your body from working properly.

Fluid Recommendations

A simple equation to calculate fluid needs for adults is to divide your weight (in pounds) in half to get the amount of water (in ounces) that you need per day.

Another way to think about hydration is to get enough fluids in the day and not just glasses of water. Fluids come from water, other beverages, or food. Most people get 80% of their fluids from beverages and 20% from food. Here are daily fluid recommendations:

· Toddlers – 16-32 ounces

· 4-8 years – 35 ounces

· 9-13 years – 40-50 ounces

· 14-18 years – 50-112 ounces

· Women – 91 ounces

· Men – 125 ounces

Other factors affect hydration. Consuming a lot of salt, sugar, or alcoholic beverages could dehydrate you even if you get what would normally be enough. If you live in a dry or hot climate, you may need more fluids than someone who lives in a cool, wet climate.

Dehydration Detection

Dehydration can have serious health consequences, including kidney stones, urinary tract infections, and constipation. The symptoms of dehydration are different for children and adults. Look for a few key signs.

· Babies and Young Children

• Dry mouth and tongue

• No tears when crying

• Three or more hours without a wet diaper

· Adults

• Thirst

• Fatigue, dizziness, or confusion

• Urine color (If it isn’t pale yellow, you may need more fluid.)

People at Greater Risk

For the average, healthy adult, thirst is a sign that you need more fluid. This method may not be the best practice for those at greater risk for dehydration like athletes, older adults, pregnant and breastfeeding women.

• Athletes – Mild dehydration comes on before thirst and lowers endurance and motivation. Athletes are encouraged to drink before they feel thirsty.

• Older Adults – Sensitivity to thirst declines as we age. This makes older adults more susceptible to dehydration. An idea for people over 65 is to keep water nearby and drink throughout the day even if they aren’t thirsty.

• Pregnant Women — Extra fluids are needed for the development of the baby. Being dehydrated while pregnant can lead to birth defects or premature delivery.

• Breastfeeding Women — If you are breastfeeding, you should drink an extra glass of water every time you breastfeed to replenish lost fluids.

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