How much water do we really need?

The summer heat we’re experiencing can quickly take its toll on our bodies and keeping properly hydrated is critically important.

“Dehydration can increase your risk of dangerous heatstroke. And chronic dehydration can actually speed up the aging process,” said Consumer Reports Health Editor Trisha Calvo.

But if you ask someone how much water is needed to prevent dehydration and other problems, they’ll likely tell you eight glasses of water a day. However, Calvo says it’s not one-size-fits-all.

“Keeping properly hydrated doesn’t mean measuring and downing water all day. All of our bodies are different, and the amount of fluids we each need varies,” she explained.

Are drinks and powders that claim to be “ultra-hydrating” really good for you? (Provided by Consumer Reports)

The good news is it doesn’t have to be all water all the time. Seltzer, milk, fruit juice, even coffee and tea are great ways of getting fluids into your body. But stay away from sugary drinks like soda because they’re full of empty calories.

CONSUMER REPORTS: How much water do we need?

What about drinks and powders that claim to be “ultra-hydrating?”

“They often contain electrolytes, so they may be beneficial for athletes who sweat a lot, but they often also have sugar and artificial flavors, so for the rest of us who just exercise moderately, water is good enough,” Calvo said.

Another great source of fluids that might surprise you: Foods! (Provided by Consumer Reports)

Another great source of fluids that might surprise you: Foods! Calvo says nearly everything we eat has some water in it. Look for fruits and vegetables as they are the go-to source as the best water replacers. Some good options:

  • Small wedge of watermelon: 7 ounces of water
  • Large peach: 5 ounces of water
  • One cup of cucumber: 4 ounces of water

If you do exercise, it might be a good idea to weigh yourself before and after your workout and drink 16 to 24 ounces of fluid for every pound you’ve lost after your exercise.

In the end, though, it’s really important you pay attention to your body. Look out for symptoms of fatigue, wooziness, headaches and cramps. And if you or someone else is suffering from heatstroke, call 911 immediately, get into an air-conditioned room, and do not drink anything.