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Water is the largest single constituent of the human body and is essential for cellular balance (homeostasis) and life. Total water intake includes drinking water, water in beverages, and water that is part of food.



Getting enough water to drink every day is important for health.


Drinking water can prevent dehydration, a condition that can cause unclear thinking, result in mood change, cause your body to overheat, and lead to constipation and kidney stones.


Water has no calories, so it can also help with managing body weight and reducing calorie intake when substituted for drinks with calories, such as sweet tea or regular soda.


In this article you will learn about:

  • How water helps the body
  • How much water to drink daily
  • When to increase daily water intake
  • Healthy sources of water
  • Healthy sources of beverages
  • Healthy sources of foods with high water content
  • Tips for drinking more water




How water helps the body


In the adult human, water makes up approximately 70 to 75 percent of fat-free mass, and fat or adipose tissue is approximately 10 to 40 percent water.


The total body water as a percentage of total body weight at different life stages is represented in Table 1 below.



Body water is distributed between the inside of cells of the body (ICF) and the outside (ECF).


65% of total body water is located in the ICF and 35 percent is in the ECF. The ECF is further divided into the spaces around cells and tissues (interstitial) and blood vessels (plasma spaces).


For example, an average 70-kg man has approximately 42 L of total body water, 28 L of which is in the ICF, and 14 L in the ECF.


The ECF comprises approximately 3 L of plasma and 11 L of interstitial fluid.


These figures of water distribution in the body are not static volumes, but are influenced by continuous and active fluid exchange with varying turnover rates between spaces of the body.


Situations such as exercise, heat exposure, fever, diarrhea, trauma, and skin burns can greatly modify the net volumes and water turnover rates between the different fluid compartments of the body.


With these dynamic levels and distribution of water content in the human body, it is obvious that water must play highly significant roles in maintaining numerous body functions within normal ranges of performance.


These functions include without specific exclusions:

  • Hydrates, refreshes and nourishes the body.
  • Helps to flush out wastes in the body through perspiration, respiration, urination and defecation.
  • Prevents kidney stones.
  • Promotes healthy skin.
  • Supports digestion and bowel movements.
  • Aids body functions like maintenance of normal temperature.
  • Lubricates and cushions joints.
  • Boosts brain and muscle health.
  • Protects sensitive tissues like the brain and spinal cord..
  • Prevents headaches and aids immunity.




How much water should be taken daily?


There is no hard and fast recommendation for how much total water intake everyone should have daily, but there are credible recommendations for how much daily total water intake should come from a variety of beverages and foods.


Daily total water intake (fluid) can be defined as the amount of water consumed from foods, plain drinking water, and other beverages.


Daily water intake recommendations vary by age, sex, pregnancy status, and breastfeeding status. One reliable source recommends the following as adequate daily total water intake1:

  • For young men (ages 19 to 30 years) is 3.7 L per day.
  • For young women (ages 19 to 30 years) is 2.7 L per day.



Fluids (drinking water and beverages) provided 3.0 L and 2.2 L per day for 19- to 30-year-old men and women, respectively, representing approximately 81 percent of total water intake in a U.S. survey. Water contained in food provided the balance of the 19 percent. 1


Note that the figures given above for adequate daily water intake are not to be taken as specific daily requirements as a wide range of intake is compatible with normal hydration. 




When should you increase your daily water intake?


  • In hot climates.
  • More physically active.
  • Running a fever.
  • Having diarrhea or vomiting.




What are the healthy sources of water?


  • Plain drinking water.& beverages – supplies nearly 81% of total daily water intake
  • Foods with high water content - supplies the balance of 19% of total daily water intake


As shown above, most of our total daily fluid needs are met through the plain water and other beverages we drink. Foods, especially those with high water content, such as many fruits and vegetables are additional sources.


Drinking water is a good way of getting fluids because it has zero calories. The fluid intake of a healthy adult can vary markedly depending on activity level, environmental exposure, diet, and social activities.




What are the healthy sources of beverages?


Healthy beverage options besides water that are low in calories can be part of a healthy diet and they include: 


  • Low- or no- calorie beverages
    • Plain coffee or teas
    • Carbonated (Sparkling) water
    • Naturally flavored waters, are low-calorie choices that can be part of a healthy diet.


  • Drinks with calories and important nutrients
    • Low-fat or fat-free milk
    • 100% fruit or vegetable juice containing important nutrients can be enjoyed within recommended calorie limits.




Tips for drinking more water


  • Carry a water bottle with you and refill it throughout the day.
  • Choose water over sugary drinks.
  • Opt for water when eating out. You’ll save money and reduce calories.
  • Serve water during meals.
  • Add a wedge of lime or lemon to your water. This can help improve the taste.





  1. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2005. Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. .




Published: October 9, 2022.

© 2022. Datelinehealth Africa Inc. All rights reserved.






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