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How Much Water Should Adolescents Consume?

By Michele Turcotte, MS, RD

Adolescence, or the period of life from puberty to adulthood, makes up the majority of your teen years. During this time, proper nutrition is essential for normal growth and development. Proper nutrition includes hydration. Hydration is important for maintaining body fluids and minerals, such as sodium. Physically active adolescents may need more water than their sedentary counterparts due to fluid loss through sweat.

Function

Water serves many functions in the human body. It serves as the medium in which metabolic reactions occur. Water helps lubricate joints, cushion organs and regulate body temperature. You need water in large quantities daily, and it is important for food digestion, proper absorption of nutrients and waste removal. The requirement for water is expressed as "total" water--which includes all water contained in food, beverages and drinking water.

Young Adolescents

According to the Institutes of Medicine Food and Nutrition Board, adolescent males aged 9 to 13 years require 2.4 liters of total water daily. There are approximately 33 fluid oz. in 1 L of water. Thus, a young male needs about 81 fluid oz. or just over 10 cups of total water daily. Adolescent females aged 9 to 13 years require slightly less water; 2.1 L of total water daily. This equates to approximately 71 fluid oz. or nearly 9 cups.

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Teenagers

The larger you are, the more water you require for bodily functions. According to the Institutes of Medicine Food and Nutrition Board, males aged 14 to 18 years require 3.3 L of total water daily. Thus, a teenaged male needs about 112 fluid oz. or just shy of 14 cups of total water daily. Females in the same age group require slightly less water; 2.3 L of total water daily. This equates to approximately 78 fluid oz. or nearly 9.75 cups.

Physical Activity

Adolescents who engage in vigorous physical activities such as sports, particularly in hot weather, may require a higher daily water intake. In addition, for activities lasting 60 minutes or longer, an electrolyte-replacement beverage, or sports drink, may be beneficial. Like adults, adolescents should drink approximately 2 cups of water for every lb. lost from sweat post-exercise.

Considerations

Typically, about 20 percent of total water intake comes from foods. Obvious water-containing foods include soups, fruits and vegetables. However, all foods contain some water. For simplicity's sake, count all beverages toward your fluid intake. Strive to drink plain water most often as it has a neutral pH or acidity level, which does not erode tooth enamel, is well-absorbed and does not cause stomach upset during exercise, unlike sugary beverages.

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