Drinking plenty of water can do wonders for your health.

By Jane Bianchi

Sipping Pretty

Water can do wonders for your health, but exactly how much do you need to gulp each day? It depends on your weight, how many caffeinated and alcoholic beverages you down, and how active you are, says Esther Blum, RD, author Eat, Drink, and Be Gorgeous: A Nutritionist's Guide to Living Well While Living It Up (Chronicle Books). Her advice: First, divide your weight in half to get the minimum number of ounces your body needs each day. Then add 8 ounces for each caffeinated or alcoholic beverage you consume (because both are diuretics) and another 8 ounces for every 20 minutes of exercise you do (because you sweat out water). A 144-pound woman who drinks a cup of coffee in the morning and a glass of wine at night and exercises regularly should drink 13 glasses of water a day. Here's the math:

Weight (144 lbs. / 2) 72 ouncesCoffee (one cup) + 8 ouncesAlcohol (one drink) + 8 ouncesExercise (40 minutes) + 16 ounces

Total H2O 104 ounces or 13 glasses/day

Copyright © 2008. Used with permission from the April 18, 2008, issue of Family Circle magazine.