Northeastern University Dining Services Blog

Friday, February 22, 2013

Water: We Can't Live Without It!

Friday, February 22, 2013 | 11:33 AM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , No comments

Water is an essential nutrient and is involved in a variety of body functions, including regulating body temperature, transporting nutrients and oxygen to cells, and carrying waste products out of the body. But how do you know how much is enough - or too much?

Your need for water depends on many factors such as your health, activity level, and climate you live in. Each day, we lose water through our breath, sweat, and urine. When it is hot and humid (which it is definitely not right now!) we need even more. We need to replenish these fluid losses through foods and beverages.

The Adequate Intake (AI) of water recommended by the Institute of Medicine for women (ages 19-30) is about 11 cups/day (2.7 liters/day) and about 15 cups/day (3.7 liters/day) for men (ages 19-30). Although these amounts sounds like a lot, keep in mind that you do not need to consume all of your fluid needs from water alone. Foods, specifically fruits and vegetables, provide about 20% of your water intake - and if you consume milk and juice those beverages count too. Coffee, tea and soda also contribute fluids but if they contain caffeine it may increase urination. And an important note to remember: if you drink vitamin/flavored waters be aware that you may also be taking in extra calories from sugar or sugar-free sweeteners as well as artificial flavors.

If you exercise and you are working up a sweat you should drink extra water. Drink before, during, and after your workout and include an additional 1 ½ - 2 ½ cups for short bouts of exercise.

During a time when you have an illness such as a flu or virus that results in a fever, vomiting, or diarrhea you will be losing more fluid and you need to be sure to drink water or rehydrating beverages (Gatorade or Powerade) to avoid dehydration.

Three easy ways to increase fluid intake throughout the day include:
  • Drinking at least 1 cup of water at each meal
  • Carrying a water bottle with you that can be refilled throughout the day
  • Trying to add a splash of fruit juice for flavor if you don't like plain water.


Nutritionist Christine Clark works with Dining Services to provide you with tips and techniques to stay healthy during your time at Northeastern. If you have any further questions about this topic or are looking for more information about any other nutrition or diet topic, such as food allergies or sports nutrition, please contact her at

  1. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) Dietary Reference Intake table for water and electrolytes. Accessed February 15, 2013
  2. Water: How much should you drink every day? Web article from the Mayo Clinic Accessed February 15, 2013


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