Waterlogged America: Do We Drink Too Much?

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The Water Intake That's Right for You

Where the harm comes in, McCartney argues, is when the call to "drink more water" becomes the marketing call to "drink more bottled water." As a nation, Americans consume more than 8 billion gallons of bottled water annually, up from about 5 billion in 2001, according to the International Bottled Water Association.

"The notion that you have to drink water from Fiji is insane. That's part of America -- people are taken in by marketing issues," said Goldfarb.

And "what about all the plastic bottles, the transport of water round the country, and subsequent environmental harm?" McCartney said.

The bottom line is simple: dehydration is bad, but if you're in good health and drinking when you're thirsty, you probably fine.

"Thirst is a highly developed sensation, powerfully motivated. When you're thirsty, all you want to do is drink. But being thirsty doesn't mean you are ill at this point or dehydrated to the point that there are consequences," Goldfarb said.

Another measure? Watch the color of your urine, said Dr. Randy Wexler, a physician and assistant professor at Ohio State University. "The more clear the urine, the better the hydration. The darker..the more dehydrated."

If you exercise or are out on a hot day and sweating, you'll need more water for sure, but then again, your body will tell you that with thirst, Goldfarb added.

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