1. Health

Hydration Calculator

Water is essential for your good health, but you might need more water than you think. I designed this hydration calculator to help you decide how much water you need. Answer all the questions based on how you feel and what your activity levels are today:

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Why is water so important? There are lots of reasons. Water helps carry nutrients to all the cells of your body and then helps with waste removal. Many of the biochemical reactions that occur in your body rely on water, and it can also help to regulate your body temperature. That's one reason you need to drink more water on a hot day.

Increasing Your Water Intake

Does it matter what types of fluids you consume? Most of the water you need comes from the liquids you drink. Water is an obvious source for your daily fluid needs. Other good beverages include milk, herbal teas, green tea, low-sodium broth, or 100-percent fruit juices, and vegetable juices. And while a can of soda has as much water as a similar sized glass of water, the soda has extra calories from sugar, and it may contain various artificial colorings and additives you might want to avoid.

So it's not the water itself that makes a good or bad source, it's the other ingredients that make the difference.

What about foods? About 20 percent of your water intake comes from the foods you eat -- even dry toast has a little bit of water in it. But in general, fresh fruits and vegetables contain a fair amount of water. Plus, they're high in potassium and low in sodium, which can help keep your body fluids balanced.

Drinking water can help you lose weight, especially if you use it to replace higher calorie beverages. A tall glass of water with a slice of lemon or lime makes an excellent 'diet' beverage.

Precautions

It's possible to drink too much water if you drink a very large amount all at once. It causes blood levels of sodium to be too low, which results in a condition called hyponatremia. Don't drink all of the water once -- drink several glasses of water throughout the day. That's especially important if you engage in lots of heavy exercise.

Speak to your doctor about how much water to drink if you have kidney or adrenal problems, or if you're taking diuretic medications.

Infants should be given only formula or breast milk unless your pediatrician tells you otherwise.

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Tips for Preventing Heat-Related Illness." Accessed November 1, 2014. http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/heattips.asp.

Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. "Dietary Reference Intakes: Electrolytes and Water." Accessed November 1, 2014. http://www.iom.edu/?id=18495.

University of Rochester Medical Center Health Encyclopedia. "Why Your Body Needs Water." Accessed November 1, 2014. http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=1&ContentID=1499.

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