Humans need water to live, and while we’re probably all getting the bare minimum, few of us are getting enough for optimal health on a regular basis. According to a recent U.S. National Health Nutrition Examination Survey using data from 2009 to 2012, only about 30 percent of American's daily water intake came from plain water. The rest came from other liquids, such as juice, tea and soda.
While these all have water in them, and do count towards your total water needs, many nutritionists agree that that a high intake of fresh drinking water, separate and distinct from other sources of moisture, is necessary for good health. This is where you get the common suggestion of eight servings per day of eight fluid ounces.
If you’re looking at all water sources, the average male human needs about 3.7 liters (appx. 1 gallon) of liquid water per day, with the average female human needing about 2.7 liters (appx. 0.75 gallon). This will vary of course along with how much salt you’re eating, how much you’re exercising, and how often you’re getting massage. And you can put away your swimsuit, playing in water doesn't count!
So why is it important to stay hydrated?
Your body uses water for EVERYTHING! But seriously, drinking enough water to stay well hydrated helps your body to maintain its temperature, can help you to lose weight, think better, improve your mood, prevent disease (and headaches!), and make your skin glow. Water does all this because it acts as a building block, a solvent for chemical reactions, and a transport material for nutrients and waste.
However, it IS possible to drink too much water.
An overconsumption of water can lead to water intoxication, which can dangerously dilute the concentration of salts in the body. A persistent desire to drink inordinate quantities of water, often accompanied by frequent urination, may be a symptom of a problem and is worth talking about with a medical professional.