I Can't Get Hydrated!
by Nancy Hearn, CNC

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“I drink plenty of water, but I can’t get hydrated.” Sound familiar?

This is a frequent comment I hear from website visitors and clients.  So, what’s going on?

The answer usually comes down to how much water you are actually drinking on a daily basis, what type of water it is, the mineral balance in your body, as well as your health condition and a few other factors.

How Much Water

As a nutrition consultant, I learned fairly quickly that many people were suffering from symptoms of chronic dehydration.

So when I asked how much water they were drinking on a daily basis, the answer was often “a lot” or “plenty.”

However, when they actually started tracking their daily intake of water, per my request, they often found they were drinking far less than they thought.

This was mainly because many were drinking other liquids throughout the day such as coffee, tea, ice tea, sodas, sparkling water, fruit juice.

Other Beverages vs Water

Even though the intake of other beverages may contribute to body hydration, it is not the same as drinking plain water. 

Plain water has specific functions in the body that no other fluid can replace.  

Water also carries nutrients to the cells and toxins out of the body.  It supplies oxygen to the cells and facilitates energy production, as well as many other critical functions in the body.

Some beverages, such as alcohol, coffee and black tea, are diuretics and can cause additional water loss.

The general rule of thumb is that for every cup of coffee or tea you drink, you need to drink an extra glass of clean drinking water. The same for alcohol consumption.

Daily Water Intake

As far as how much water to drink, daily water intake varies from person to person, depending on age, weight, gender, activity levels, weather conditions, and health condition.

There are different theories on how much water we need to drink each day but like many top health experts, I recommend drinking half your body weight in ounces of water daily.  

Some instances where water intake might need to be increased include:  (1) hot or humid climate, (2) an illness with fever, diarrhea or vomiting, (3) prolonged or intense exercise, (4) pregnancy or breast feeding, (5) chronic health conditions or (6) dieting.

The Type of Water You Drink Matters

Another reason people can’t get hydrated has to do with the type of water they drink.

In a sense it is true that “water is water.”  No matter what type of water you drink, you will get some degree of hydration as long as it is free or dangerous contaminants.

However, when it comes to optimal hydration, I am convinced that mineral rich water is far more hydrating than de-mineralized waters (such as distilled or reverse osmosis).

The primary reason for this is because drinking water with a low mineral content has a negative effect on functions in the body that control water and mineral metabolism.

Mineral Balance and Hydration

If the water we drink is deficient in minerals, this imbalance increases urine output and thus the additional loss of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and chloride ions, according to a World Health Organization study.

This changes the balance of minerals and water inside and outside cell membranes, and affects hormones that are key to the managing of body water balance.

Water in our body always contains specific concentrations of electrically charged minerals called electrolytes.

When we drink water that is low in minerals, our intestines have to add electrolytes to this water first, pulling them from body reserves. Over time, this can lead to mineral deficiency and insufficient body water distribution.

For this reason, if someone has a reverse osmosis system or distiller, I highly recommend taking mineral and/or electrolyte supplements to replenish. 

Some of the RO systems now include a mineral replenish cartridge, which I highly recommend.

However, even mineral supplementation may not be sufficient to replenish mineral loss and maintain mineral balance in the body when you drink demineralized water long-term.


If you find you can’t get hydrated, I encourage the following steps:

  1. Measure and track how much plain water you actually drink each day.  If you are not consistently drinking half your body weight in ounces of water, commit to drinking that much at least until you become re-hydrated.  (Note:  this could take weeks or months.)  If you have a smart phone, there are a few good free apps that are easy to use and can even give you reminders when to drink water.  The water app I am currently using is called “Drink Water Aquarium.”
  2. Drink mineral-rich water rather than de-mineralized water (RO or distilled). If you buy bottled water, this means buying spring waters like Crystal Geyser or Arrowhead or alkaline waters.  Or you can invest in a quality drinking water filter for your home.  If you currently have a distiller and RO system, be sure to take a mineral supplement and/or electrolyte supplement.

Further reading . . .

Drinking Enough Water Facts and Recommendations

Drinking Demineralized Water – The Health Risks

Return from I Can’t Get Hydrated! to Drinking Enough Water Daily Is the Foundation of Health

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Visitor Comments

"This was the best and most straight forward info on the net yet. I asked a question and got an answer that made sense. Thank you so much!" - Linderlinder

FINALLY!!! I have been wondering about this for years with no 'solid' answer. This is exactly what I've been wanting to know! Thank you for this share..." by Andy

"Thank you for the information, Nancy. I appreciate it. Your article and findings are very helpful,  referring to dehydration." -  Carolyn

"Lemon water is one drink both my wife and I can't drink. It upsets our stomachs. We are in our sixties and in very good healthwell, better health now that we drink about 2 liters plus of water each day. It has made so much difference to our digestive systems and recovery every day. Thank you for your website and effort." - Rod