Water is an essential nutrient for life. Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommendations from 2004 set adequate levels for total water intake from all foods and liquids at 3.7 liters (125 ounces) for men and 2.7 liters (91 ounces) for women.
Consuming inadequate amounts of water increases the risk of dehydration, kidney stones, and poorer cognitive performance. Differences in water intake have been reported by age, race and Hispanic origin, and physical activity.
A new NCHS report provides updated estimates of mean daily total water intake for U.S. men and women aged 20 and over in 2009–2012.
- Among U.S. adults, men consumed an average of 3.46 liters (117 ounces) of water per day, and women consumed 2.75 liters (93 ounces) per day.
- Men aged 60 and over consumed less water (2.92 liters) than men aged 20–39 (3.61 liters) and 40–59 (3.63 liters). Similarly, women aged 60 and over consumed less water (2.51 liters) than women aged 20–39 (2.78 liters) and 40–59 (2.9 liters).
- Non-Hispanic white men and women consumed more water daily than non-Hispanic black and Hispanic men and women.
- Water intake increased with physical activity level for both men and women.
- Among men, 30% of total water consumed was plain water (with the remainder from other foods and liquids) compared with 34% for women.