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Drinking Water Guidelines

Q : How much water do I need to drink daily? Also, does it need to be water or is juice ok?

A : I’m glad you asked, as this is a common area of misinformation. Especially in our hot climate (Florida) it is vital that everyone, and especially children (due to their small size), be certain to have enough water intake to balance the body’s depletion due to the heat.

And when I say water, I’m very specific about it. I mean water, not juice, not soda, not milk, not rice milk and not soy milk. So, I don’t mean liquids, I mean water. In my experience I’ve found that bodies treat non-water liquids as food. They have calories, carbohydrates, and sometimes protein and as such are food sources. The word “dehydration” comes from two Latin and Greek words meaning “lower/remove water.”

Notice that it isn’t “lower/remove juice.” Dehydration can occur if the correct amount of water isn’t taken in. Symptoms of dehydration vary from subtle changes in mental status (difficulty concentrating, irritability), and can be as serious as seizures, coma, and death.

I recommend that people use spring water, as opposed to distilled or reverse osmosis (R.O.) water. For some people, distilled or R.O. is very beneficial, but for most it actually creates a problem due to its absence of minerals. Without the benefit of testing someone, I would recommend spring water.

Also, the type of container that the water is in is important. If you look on the bottom of most plastic containers in this country you will see a triangle with arrows (the recycle symbol) with a number inside the triangle. Up to this time I have consistently found that spring water in clear plastic bottles numbered “1”, “3” or “7” inside the triangle tests the best.

The translucent container used by the majority of companies for their one and two gallon size water jugs have a “2” inside the triangle. Water in this type of bottle consistently tests poorly. My own supposition that the translucent plastic is imparting some chemicals into the water has been backed up by the “clean water” experts I’ve spoken with. They are made from a different type of plastic that is more toxic.

The ideal container for pure water is glass. However, this is not as workable for children do to breakability, nor for the five-gallon sizes, due to their weight. I recommend that you check the numbers on the bottoms of the containers that you regularly use. If they are a 1, 3, or 7 they are most likely OK to continue using. If they are a 2, toss them out and go shopping for the better types. Also, be sure that sippy cups and sport bottles are made from an acceptable plastic.

It is easiest for a hot body to drink room temperature or only slightly cooled water. The body’s digestive abilities can be hindered by drinking ice cold water, as well. If you know that the water will be in the heat a while, you can put pure water ice cubes in the container if they will be melted by the time the water is drunk.

It is most ideal to have water available at all times so the children can help themselves as needed. As some children think playing is more fun than drinking, it is up to the parents, teachers, and baby-sitters to offer them water regularly (at least every hour) in the summertime. If they are playing outside offer water even more often; every 15-30 minutes would be great.

The actual amount of water that is needed will vary in different situations. A general rule of thumb is to divide your weight (in pounds) by two and drink that many ounces of water per day. For example, a woman who weighs 140 lbs. would drink 70 ounces of water. This amount may need to be varied if there are particular health or climate conditions. The key is to have good water available throughout the day. I hope this helps!

Dr. Susan Player