How Much Water Is Too Much?

Glass of Water

The popular Japanese Water Diet would have you believe that 2 liters of water per day is essential for maintaining a healthy weight. Wow, that sounds like a lot but it's only 67 ounces, Of course you've probably heard an Americanized version that you should drink a minimum of eight 8 ounce glasses (64 oz. in total) or about 1.89 liters of water each day, which still falls short of the 3-plus liters for men and 2.2 liters for women as recommended by the Institute of Medicine.

When you fail to consume enough water, you can suffer from dehydration, a condition that occurs when you haven't consumed the water needed for your body to carry out normal functions. Although no single formula can be used to determine how much water you need to each day, studies conducted by the Mayo Clinic found it depends on your overall health, how active you are and where you live. But, we know for a fact that even mild dehydration can leave you feeling totally drained.

On the other hand, when you drink too much water too fast, the kidneys may not be able to keep up and the diluted levels of mineral content (mostly sodium) can cause cells throughout the body to swell leading to a dangerous condition known as hyponatremia. Last year a Georgia high school football player suffering from cramps at practice died due to swelling in the brain after consuming too much liquid, too fast. In 2007, a contestant died of water intoxication in California as part of a radio station contest. Although now banned on most campuses, a few years ago a Chico State college student died after drinking too much water during a fraternity initiation.

For most of us, drinking more water as well as making water our drink of choice at mealtime is good idea. Water does help to fill you up, so you will probably eat less while gaining an added benefit of improved digestion and kidney function.  If you do have concerns about your fluid intake or already have health issues, check with your medical provider or a registered dietitian. He or she can help you determine the right amount of water based on your health condition, exercise routine and environment.


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