Lounge Doctor

Can you drink too much water...


Nutritional Advisor
Sep 5, 2011
Australia Australia
Yes, drinking too much water could be fatal. But it's very rare!

There is a lack of evidence that drinking water in excess of thirst is beneficial for the health of individuals who are not exercising strenuously.

Water makes up around 50 to 80 per cent of your lean body mass. As well as helping to maintain the balance of essential minerals, your body needs adequate water to help with:

1. temperature regulation, especially keeping you cool by allowing you to sweat when you get hot.
2. digestion and processing of food, by keeping your gastrointestinal tract moist to aid in the passing of the food through the gut.
3. absorption of nutrients and helping you to pass waste.

When you consume too much water, the level of an important mineral, sodium, can drop too low.

This can lead to a condition known as hyponatremia, which can lead to the body retaining too much water. Hyponatremia can cause your cells to swell, which is particularly harmful to the brain and can lead to seizures and even death.

We've been told we need to drink at least eight glasses of water a day, but there's no scientific evidence to support this. Health professionals agree men's bodies need around 2.6 litres and women's around 2.1 litres of water a day (pretty much eight glasses a day). But it turns out you get some of this from other drinks and food.

Approximately four glasses of water, or a litre a day, is obtained from the food that we eat. So we get that from solid foods and things such as watermelon, tea, coffee, milk and yogurt, which all contribute to our total fluid load.

You can also include caffeinated drinks in your fluid intake. While these drinks do have a mild diuretic effect (ie they promote water loss) you get more fluid from them than you lose. However, alcohol makes you dehydrated.

On top of what you get from food and drinks, your body produces another 250mls of water a day when metabolising substances in the body, such as fat, protein and starch.

Taking all this into consideration, it is suggested that you drink four to six standard glasses (250ml) of water per day. Obviously, you will need more if you are living in an extremely hot climate and are very active. Likewise, if you live in a very cold climate you may need to drink a little less.

So how do you know when you need to drink more water? It isn't rocket science, your thirst can be a guide or check the colour of your urine – it should be pale yellow.

However, don't wait until you have dry lips in between drinking as this may be a sign that your body is already becoming dehydrated.


1 Ounce [Fluid, US] = 0.0295735297 Liter
1 Ounce [Fluid, UK] = 0.0284130625 Liter


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