What is normal body water percentage?

The amount of water in the human body can vary based on several factors like age, gender, and health conditions. Maintaining a normal water percentage is important for overall health and functioning. Here is an overview of normal body water percentages.

What is body water percentage?

Body water percentage refers to the amount of water that makes up the human body. It is expressed as a percentage of total body weight. For example, if someone weighs 150 pounds and 105 pounds of that is water, their body water percentage is 70%.

Body water serves several crucial functions including:

  • Transporting nutrients and oxygen to cells
  • Protecting and cushioning vital organs
  • Regulating body temperature
  • Removing waste and toxins
  • Lubricating joints

Maintaining a healthy body water percentage is important to allow these functions to occur properly.

Normal body water percentage in adults

The normal range for body water percentage in adults is between 45-60% for men, and 50-60% for women. Here is a breakdown by age and gender:


  • 20-39 years old: 57-63% water
  • 40-59 years old: 53-60% water
  • 60+ years old: 50-57% water


  • 20-39 years old: 52-62% water
  • 40-59 years old: 47-58% water
  • 60+ years old: 45-55% water

As illustrated, men tend to have a higher total body water percentage compared to women. This difference is attributed to females naturally carrying more fatty tissue. Body water percentage also declines with age in both genders due to loss of muscle mass.

Normal body water percentage in infants and children

Infants start out with very high body water composition, which decreases as they age. Here are the normal water percentage ranges:

  • 0-6 months old: 75-80% water
  • 6-12 months old: 65-70% water
  • 1-5 years old: 60-65% water
  • 5-10 years old: 60% water
  • 10-15 years old: 60% water (boys), 50-55% water (girls)

As infants grow into childhood, body fat increases and total body water percentage declines. By age 5-10, children reach adult-like body water composition.

Normal total body water volume

While body water percentage is one way to assess hydration status, total body water volume is also important. This reflects the total amount of fluid in the body, not just relative to body weight.

Here are normal total body water volumes:

  • Men: 60-70% of weight as water, or about 42-60 liters total
  • Women: 50-60% of weight as water, or about 35-45 liters total
  • Infants (0-12 months): 65-75% of weight as water, or about 3-4 liters total
  • Children (1-15 years): Ages 1-5: 70% of weight as water; Ages 5-10: 65% of weight; Ages 10-15: 60% of weight.

Factors like weight, muscle mass, and fat percentage influence total body water volumes. Men carry more lean tissue so they have greater volumes of water compared to women.

Measuring body water percentage

There are several techniques that can be used to measure body water percentage:

Bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA)

BIA devices pass a small electrical current through the body to measure resistance and estimate total body water. This method is fast, painless, and non-invasive.

Skin fold thickness

Using skin fold calipers to measure fat underneath the skin at specific body sites. Total body fat percentage is calculated, allowing estimation of total body water percentage.

Isotope dilution

This lab test involves ingesting a known amount of deuterium oxide (heavy water). Urine samples are collected over time to analyze how much has been excreted. This data is used to calculate total body water volumes.

Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA)

A DXA scan can precisely evaluate total body composition including fat mass, lean tissue mass, and bone density. From this, an estimate of total body water can be made.

While methods like BIA are convenient, isotope dilution and DXA scans are more accurate for determining body water composition.

Normal body water percentage ranges

Here is a summary of the normal ranges for body water percentage at different life stages:

Group Normal water % range
Men 20-39 years 57-63%
Men 40-59 years 53-60%
Men 60+ years 50-57%
Women 20-39 years 52-62%
Women 40-59 years 47-58%
Women 60+ years 45-55%
Infants 0-6 months 75-80%
Infants 6-12 months 65-70%
Children 1-5 years 60-65%
Children 5-10 years 60%
Children 10-15 years 60% (boys), 50-55% (girls)

Factors that influence body water percentage

Several factors can cause fluctuations in body water percentage including:

  • Age – Body water declines with age as tissue hydration decreases.
  • Sex – Females carry more body fat percentage than males.
  • Body composition – Muscle tissue contains more water than fat tissue.
  • Pregnancy – Body water increases to support fetal development.
  • Menstruation – Monthly fluid retention and hormone shifts affect hydration.
  • Sodium intake – High sodium causes fluid retention.
  • Exercise – Intense exercise causes loss of water through sweat.
  • Environment – Hot humid weather or high altitudes increase fluid losses.
  • Illnesses – Vomiting, diarrhea, infections, diabetes, and kidney disease affect fluid balance.
  • Medications – Diuretics, laxatives, steroids cause fluid loss.

Being aware of these factors allows people to understand normal fluctuations in body water percentage.

Health risks of abnormal body water percentage

Having body water percentages outside of normal ranges can negatively impact health:


Dehydration, defined as insufficient body water volume, can occur if water percentage drops below normal minimum levels. Poor concentration, headaches, fatigue, dizziness, and fainting are common symptoms.

Fluid retention

Excess fluid retention leads to edema, which is swelling in the tissues and organs. This can be caused by high sodium intake, medications, kidney disease, or pregnancy. Symptoms involve puffy limbs, hands, feet, and stomach.

Electrolyte imbalances

Electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and chloride are diluted or concentrated when body water is excessively high or low. This disrupts nerve impulses and muscle function.

Changes in blood pressure

Low body water can lead to very high blood pressure. Conversely, fluid overload from conditions like heart failure drop blood pressure to dangerously low levels.

Impacts to joints and tissues

Body water provides cushioning to joints and tissues. When dehydrated, these structures are deprived of lubrication and become susceptible to injury and friction damage.

Monitoring body water levels is important, as prolonged extremes can have harmful health consequences.

Tips for maintaining normal body water percentage

Here are some tips for maintaining normal hydration levels in the body:

  • Drink enough water – Use thirst as a guide and drink throughout the day.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables – They have high water content.
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine – These have diuretic effects.
  • Consider beverage options – Water, herbal tea, milk provide hydration.
  • Monitor urine color – Pale yellow signals good hydration.
  • Weigh daily – Sudden increases may indicate fluid retention issues.
  • Replace fluids after exercise – Replenish sweat losses.
  • Use caution in heat – Have extra fluids to offset perspiration.
  • Check with doctor – Get assessed if experiencing chronic fluid balance issues.


Normal body water percentage varies based on age, sex, and overall health. While ranges exist for different groups, each individual may have a “normal baseline” that is ideal for them. Staying hydrated, limiting alcohol/caffeine, and consulting a doctor if any concerns arise can help maintain healthy fluid balance in the body.

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