How much water does a human body have?

The human body is made up of 50-75% water, with the average adult male consisting of about 60% water and the average adult female consisting of about 55% water. This water content varies by age, sex, body composition, and other factors. Newborns, for example, have a higher percentage of body water (about 75-78%) than adults. Muscle tissue contains more water (about 75% water) compared to fat tissue (about 10% water).

Total Body Water

The total amount of water in the human body depends on several factors including age, sex, body composition, and health status. Here are some general estimates for total body water:

  • Newborn infants: 75-78% of body weight
  • Children: 65% of body weight
  • Adult males: 50-65% of body weight
  • Adult females: 45-60% of body weight
  • Elderly: 45-55% of body weight

Based on these percentages, here are some examples of total body water amounts:

  • A 3.5 kg newborn: 2.6 to 2.7 liters total body water
  • A 30 kg child: 19.5 liters total body water
  • A 70 kg adult male: 35 to 45.5 liters total body water
  • A 60 kg adult female: 27 to 36 liters total body water
  • A 50 kg elderly person: 22.5 to 27.5 liters total body water

Water Distribution in the Body

Water is distributed throughout the human body in various fluid compartments:

  • Intracellular fluid (ICF): Fluid inside the cells; makes up about 2/3 of total body water
  • Extracellular fluid (ECF): Fluid outside the cells; makes up about 1/3 of total body water
    • Plasma: Fluid portion of blood
    • Interstitial fluid: Fluid between cells
    • Transcellular fluid: Fluids of eyes, joints, lymph, cerebrospinal fluid

Maintaining the balance between intracellular and extracellular fluid compartments is important for proper cell function and overall health.

Water Content of Various Tissues and Organs

Water content varies between different tissues and organs in the body:

Tissue/Organ Water Content
Blood 83%
Muscle 75%
Brain 74%
Skin 64%
Adipose tissue 10%
Bone 22%

As shown, some soft tissues like muscle and organs contain a high percentage of water, while fat and bone contain relatively little. Blood plasma in particular is mostly water, allowing it to efficiently transport nutrients, hormones, and metabolites throughout the circulatory system.

Functions of Water in the Human Body

Water serves a number of crucial functions in the human body:

  • Transportation: Water makes up a large component of blood and helps transport oxygen, nutrients, and waste throughout the body via the circulatory system.
  • Temperature regulation: Water helps regulate body temperature through perspiration and dissipation of heat.
  • Digestion and absorption: Water helps digest food and allows nutrients to be properly absorbed.
  • Lubrication and cushioning: Water provides lubrication and cushioning for joints and tissues including the eyes, mouth, and nose.
  • Waste removal: Water helps eliminate waste products from the body through urine, feces, and sweat.
  • Chemical reactions: Water participates in many essential chemical reactions that sustain life.

Dehydration, or lack of adequate fluid, can impair these functions and lead to problems ranging from minor symptoms like fatigue and headache to severe complications like organ failure in extreme cases.

Water Loss from the Body

Water is constantly entering and leaving the body. Some of the ways water exits the body include:

  • Urine: 1500-2000 mL per day is lost through urine produced by the kidneys. Amount varies based on fluid intake.
  • Sweat: 100-800 mL is lost per day through perspiration, depending on exercise and temperature environment. More is lost with intense exercise and high temperatures.
  • Feces: 100-200 mL per day is lost in bowel movements.
  • Exhaled air: 350 mL is lost each day through water vapor in breath.
  • Skin evaporation: Up to 450 mL per day is lost through evaporation from the skin.

To balance these losses, the average person needs to consume around 1-3 liters through foods and beverages daily. Plain drinking water is the best source for hydration, but intake can also come from other fluids and foods with high water content like fruits, vegetables, soups, etc.


Dehydration occurs when water output exceeds intake over time. Causes include:

  • Not drinking enough water
  • Excessive sweating from exercise or heat exposure
  • Illnesses such as diarrhea and vomiting
  • Medications like diuretics
  • Health conditions including diabetes and kidney disease

Mild dehydration of 1-3% body weight loss manifests as fatigue, thirst, dry mouth, decreased urine output, and headache. Moderate dehydration of 4-6% body weight loss can cause dizziness, rapid heart rate, increased body temperature, and fainting.

Severe dehydration usually occurs after 7-10% body weight loss and can result in confusion, shriveled skin, rapid breathing, irregular heartbeat, and unconsciousness. This is a medical emergency requiring hospital treatment to prevent complications like seizures, brain damage, kidney failure, or death in extreme cases if not promptly corrected.

Preventing Dehydration

Dehydration can largely be prevented by consuming enough fluids, especially plain water. Other tips include:

  • Drinking water before, during, and after exercise
  • Avoiding excessive alcohol intake which has a dehydrating effect
  • Drinking extra fluids when sick with vomiting or diarrhea
  • Staying hydrated in hot weather or high altitudes
  • Consuming water-rich foods like fruits and vegetables

Older adults and young children are at higher risk of dehydration. Thirst may not be a reliable indicator of fluid needs in these populations, so they may require reminders to drink fluids throughout the day.

Water Intoxication

While dehydration is far more common, it is also possible to drink too much water. Water intoxication, also called overhydration or hyponatremia, occurs when excessive water intake dilutes the sodium levels in blood. Sodium helps balance fluids both inside and outside cells. Symptoms of water intoxication include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Muscle weakness, spasms or cramps
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Water intoxication is very rare in healthy adults under normal circumstances. Those at risk include endurance athletes who consume large amounts of water without also replenishing electrolytes lost through sweat.

Treatment involves restricting water intake and potentially administering intravenous electrolytes. With prompt care, the condition can usually be reversed before causing permanent damage or death in extreme cases.

Daily Water Intake Recommendations

So how much water should you drink per day? General guidelines for adequate intake from fluids including water, other beverages like milk, and food are:

  • Adult males: 3.7 liters (15.5 cups)
  • Adult females: 2.7 liters (11.5 cups)

However, these are averages and water needs can vary significantly based on physical activity level, climate, health status, etc. Endurance athletes may require much higher intakes, for example.

Tips for meeting daily water intake goals

  • Carry a reusable water bottle and drink frequently throughout the day.
  • Choose water over sugary or alcoholic beverages which can contribute excess calories.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables high in water content like melons, berries, citrus fruits, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, etc.
  • Choose soups and broth-based dishes to increase fluid intake with meals.
  • If plain water is unpalatable, add slices of fruit or vegetables (lemon, lime, cucumber) or mint leaves to enhance flavor.
  • Set reminders to drink water at regular intervals if you have difficulty remembering.
  • Consume more fluids in hot weather or when exercising to replace losses from sweat.

Urine color is one simple way to gauge hydration status. A light lemonade or straw color is ideal. Dark yellow or amber urine usually indicates need to increase water intake.


Water is essential for life and makes up 45-75% of total body weight depending on age, sex, and body composition. It serves vital functions like temperature regulation, nutrient transportation, waste removal, and chemical reactions.

The average adult requires 2-3 liters of fluids including water and other beverages per day to replace losses from urine, sweat, breathing, and other bodily processes. DRinking enough water helps prevent dehydration, which can cause fatigue, headaches, dizziness, and other symptoms. Severe dehydration is a medical emergency requiring prompt treatment.

While overhydration from excessive water intake is possible, it is rare under normal conditions. Mild dehydration is far more common. Carrying a water bottle, drinking water instead of sugary beverages, and consuming water-rich foods can help meet daily fluid intake needs.

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