Electrolytes are minerals that conduct electricity when dissolved in water. They regulate nerve and muscle function, hydrate the body, balance blood acidity and help perform countless other tasks within the human body. Without them, we would not be able to perform even the most basic of tasks.
In this guide to electrolytes, we’ll go over all of them in detail so you can have a better understanding of how to balance your electrolyte levels without spending too much money on supplements or medications. What can you do to help prevent the loss of electrolytes?
What are electrolytes?
Electrolytes are salts and minerals dissolved in body fluids that help to regulate nerve and muscle function, hydrate (moisten) your body, balance blood acidity and pressure, and help rebuild damaged tissue. As one might guess, these are important for almost all of your body’s functions.
Muscles and neurons, “electric tissues” rely on the movement of electrolytes through the fluid inside, outside, or between cells.
Electrolytes and their Importance
In order to understand why electrolytes are so important, it’s helpful to know a little bit about what they do. Electrolytes are electrically charged minerals (e.g., sodium, potassium, magnesium) in your body that help regulate nerve and muscle function as well as hydrate your body through sweat. They also play a key role in maintaining blood acidity and pressure levels—which keeps your heart beating at a healthy rate—and keep essential functions like digestion and absorption moving along smoothly.
Preventing the loss of electrolytes, which are critical to keeping your body functioning properly, helps you stay well-hydrated and energized throughout the day. Here’s what you need to know about electrolytes and how to keep them balanced so you can stay at your best. If your body’s electrolyte levels aren’t balanced, you may experience muscle cramps or spasms, bloating or water retention, dizziness, nausea or headaches—all of which can make even routine tasks difficult or uncomfortable and hinder your ability to perform optimally at work or in sports.
The three main electrolytes are sodium, potassium, and chloride, but there are many others as well!
Electrolytes come from our food and fluids. Electrolytes in human bodies:
Sodium – Sodium is a vital component in our diet—in fact, it is essential for helping to maintain healthy blood pressure.
Potassium – Too little potassium can lead to abnormal heart rhythms. Potassium is usually easily replenished through foods like bananas or spinach.
Food:potatoes with their skin, bananas, spinach
Magnesium – Pumpkin seeds, spinach
Chloride – lettuce, olives
Calcium – spinach, kale
Bicarbonate – Regulates body pH, or acid balance.
Phosphate – 85% of the total body phosphorus
Low Electrolytes can mean experiencing severe cramping or muscle weakness it could be a sign of dehydration or overtraining; in these cases having an additional source of supplemental potassium might be necessary.