New research has re-examined an old question regarding how much water should people should drink per day.

The 1945 Food and Nutrition Board report said the body needs one milliliter of water for every calorie consumed-averaging eight cups for a 2,000-calorie diet.

"In general, the medical community for many years has recommended 64 ounces of water," said Kent Bullis, director of the Ball State Health Center. "There's no reason to drink more than 64 ounces unless you're exercising in extremely hot weather."

Bullis recommends drinking a quart of water per hour a person exercises.

Bullis said the kind of water people should drink really doesn't matter. Drinking tap water, well water or bottled water is acceptable.

"It doesn't have to be bottled water," he said. "Well water is good because it's been filtered through the sands of the earth."

However, people can get their daily amount from other sources besides water.

Beverages containing caffeine count toward the daily fluid amount, but water is still a better way to hydrate the body, Bullis said.

Bullis said people can absorb water from the foods they eat, and that counts toward the 64 ounces.

According to the Institute of Medicine's Food and Nutrition Board, fruits and vegetables are 80 to 95 percent water and eating those foods is another good way to get plenty of water.

Though the issue of how much water is too much is an issue, Bullis said drinking too much water isn't a major problem among college students.

"I've been practicing medicine for 16 years, and the only cases I've seen when someone drank too much water are obsessive/compulsive patients who have the feeling they have to constantly drink water," he said.

Drinking too little is more of a problem with college students than drinking too much water but not much more of a problem.

Young, healthy people drink water or other beverages when they're thirsty, not when they don't feel the need to drink anything.

"The average size adult can get by on at least 16 ounces of fluid a day," Bullis said. "Your body's really efficient. You can get by on very little."

When a person drinks fewer ounces of fluid than 16, that's when a person can get into trouble and risk dehydration," Bullis said.

Symptoms can be anything as mild as thirstiness and dry mouth to something more severe, such as dark-colored urine and a decrease in urination.

Bullis said some other symptoms of dehydration are when a person becomes confused or disoriented and muscle cramping, an early sign of the condition.

Though lack of fluids can cause health problems such as urinary track infections, Bullis said the UTI cases he sees at the health center aren't caused by dehydration.

For every 50 cases of urinary track infections, one is caused by not drinking enough, he said.

Women are more likely to have a urinary track infection caused by sexual contact rather than lack of fluids, Bullis said.

He said it's difficult to determine a set amount a person should drink per day because each person is different in size, height and weight.


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