How much water do you need to drink a day?

A woman drinks from a water bottle
Drinking water helps to clear up skin and boost energy levels. (Photo by Getty)

Let's face it: not many of us drink enough water. We've all experienced feeling faint and dehydrated after opting for fizzy drinks or sugary teas instead.

Staying hydrated is essential for your body to function properly – especially in the summer heat, when we're more likely to feel groggy, and in the winter months, when cold and flu symptoms are more common.

Water can help to clear out toxins, clear up skin and boost energy levels, according to studies. But how much do you actually need to drink to feel the benefits? Here's what the experts say.

How much water should I drink each day?

The NHS recommends drinking six to eight glasses of fluid per day – or about 1.2 litres – to stay hydrated. As well as water, this includes:

  • Sugar-free tea and coffee

  • Lower-fat milk

  • Fruit juice and smoothies (no more than 150ml a day)

Every person's body is different, so the exact amount you need may depend on factor such as your health, age, size and weight.

Read more: Does drinking hot drinks really cool you down?

If you exercise a lot, or if it's a warm day, you'll need to drink more water to replace the liquid you'll lose through sweat.

It's equally important to stay hydrated during winter, as water can help boost your immune system during flu and cold season, helping you to fight off these viruses, and also give you a much-needed energy boost if you're feeling run-down.

Woman doing sport at home.
You need to drink more water if you're exercising. (Photo by Getty)

It seems like a lot to drink in a day, but a slight change in diet can reduce the amount you need to consume. Try eating foods with a high water content, such as watermelon, cucumber and courgette, to contribute to your fluid intake.

And cut back on salty foods such as bacon and cheese, as they will cause your body to use up fluids to dilute the sodium consumed.

Can you drink too much water?

It's possible – but rare – to over-hydrate if you drink too much water in a short period of time. This can lead to a condition called hyponatremia – sometimes known as 'water intoxication' – if your blood's sodium content becomes diluted.

Read more: What happens to your body when it gets too hot?

The symptoms include disorientation, nausea and vomiting, and cases are most common among endurance athletes.

As a rule of thumb, you should only drink water when you are thirsty, and not drink so much that you feel bloated or put on weight.