On an average, our bodies contain 60% water. We need to consume certain amount of water every day to survive and remain health.
Our kidneys need sufficient amounts of water to properly flush out metabolic byproducts and toxins from the body. Not drinking enough water can cause many types of diseases including painful kidney stones.
Daily recommended amount of water intake
Institute of Medicine recommends that an average woman needs to drink about 2.7 liters (12 cups or 91 ounces) per day while an average man needs about 3.7 liters (16 cups or 125 ounces) per day.
It is important to note that, this amount includes water gained from food items which can be as high as 25% of this recommended amount and beverages like coffee, tea, soda, juices etc.
So, how much water should I drink?
The above mentioned quantity is a good reference point, but in reality our individual water intake requirements will depend on many other factors.
We should take into consideration the environment we live in, temperate, humidity, altitude, our physical activity, health condition, food habits, weight, age, gender etc.
Now, that’s a lot of parameters to take into consideration in order to calculate the most appropriate amount of fluid intake required for that particular day.
A much simpler and more practical approach for a healthy individual would be to drink water whenever you are thirsty and monitor your pee to decide if you need to increase your water intake or need to reduce it.
10 Shades of pee and what they say about your health
Here is a list of 10 different shades of urine colors for your reference. If you are in doubt, it always a good idea to talk to your doctor and take a simple urine test to clear your doubt.
Colorless or transparent urine
You are drinking excess amounts of water and you need to reduce you water intake for now.
Apart from the obvious fact that you need to use the restrooms more often, by drinking too much water too often you might be running the risk of causing electrolyte imbalance in your body by diluting sodium (hyponatremia) in your blood.
Athletes take part in long distance sports should be informed about the risk of drinking too much water during the sporting event.
Pale straw colored urine
You are drinking sufficient amounts of water and your body is perfectly hydrated. If you are not feeling thirsty, you don’t need to drink more water for now.
Transparent yellow urine
You are in the normal range and this is the perfect balance between being over hydrated and being dehydrated. Your kidneys are able function perfectly without troubling you to take too many pee breaks.
Dark yellow urine
You are still in the normal range with indications of slight dehydration starting to set in. You can keep a bottle of water handy, you will need it very soon.
Urine gets it yellow color from the chemical urobilin which is the waste generated during the recycling process of old red blood cells. Usually the shade of normal urine depends on urobilin concentration.
Fizzy or foamy urine
No need to panic! It could be caused by the speed of urination and it is perfectly normal if this is not happening frequently.
Other reasons could be excess amounts of protein in your urine (proteinuria) caused by high protein diet. If this is happening too often, then you should consult your doctor about it and get tested.
Amber or honey colored urine
You starting to get dehydrated. Certain supplements like vitamin B12 could also cause amber or honey colored urine. Drink some water if you are feeling thirsty.
Orange colored urine
Looks like you are not drinking enough water. Try to drink more water and if the color of urine has not improved, then there might be other underlying conditions like liver or gallbladder disorders. You may need to talk with your doctor if the condition persists.
Brown colored urine
Looks like you are having severe dehydration. Drink some water immediately and consult with your doctor if the situation does not improve. Certain medication can also cause your urine to be brown in color.
Pink or Reddish colored urine
Don’t panic! It could be your diet. Certain food items like beetroots, blueberries, rhubarb or artificial food colorings could cause pink or reddish urine.
It could also be caused by blood in the urine (hematuria) due to other health conditions like kidney stones or urinary tract infection. Trace amounts of blood in urine can give it a murky color.
You will need to talk with your doctor about it for further investigations.
Blue or green colored urine
Most probably its caused by artificial food colorings from the food you ate. It could also be caused by certain medications or rare health conditions. You will need to consult your doctor about this.
Factors that can increase your daily water requirements
Environment: In hot and humid environment you will need to drink more water to compensate for fluid loss due to sweating. Indoor heating during winter season can also cause you to lose moisture through your skin and you will need to stay hydrated by drinking more water.
Physical activity: Increased physical activity like heavy exercises can increase water intake. It will be a good idea to drink sufficient water before you start your routine exercises.
Health condition: When there is fluid loss due to health conditions like diarrhea or vomiting, you will need to compensate for the fluid loss by drinking more water.
If there is repeated episodes of diarrhea or vomiting, you may need to take oral rehydration solutions (ORS) in order to prevent electrolyte imbalance in your body.
If you have trouble with kidney stones, you may need to keep yourself well hydrated and take steps to prevent dehydration.
High blood glucose can cause frequent urination. You will need to compensate for this by drinking more water to prevent dehydration.
Breast-feeding: Women who breast feed will need to drink more water to replenish fluid lost during nursing.