Do you know about electrolyte benefits? Humans need electrolytes in order to survive. If you fail to consume the correct balance of electrolytes, it can lead to dehydration, heart disease, and neurological problems. In this article, we are going to explain all about electrolytes and why it is important to get the right amount of them.
What Are Electrolytes and What Causes An Imbalance?
Electrolytes are minerals in our bodies that contain an electric charge. They allow our bodies to work properly. Electrolytes are found in our blood, urine, tissues and other fluids in our bodies.(1)
Why is it important to know about electrolyte benefits? Your level of electrolytes can vary from day to day. This happens when the amount of water in your body changes. The amount of water that you take in should equal the amount you lose. If something upsets this balance, you will either not have enough water or you will have too much water.
There are several factors that can vary the amount of water you have in your body. Vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, and the usage of some medication will change the balance of water in your body. (4) In addition, liver and kidney problems can upset your water balance. Now that we’ve discussed what electrolytes are, let’s discuss the different electrolytes and what they do. Watch the video to learn more about electrolyte benefits!
What Do Electrolytes Do?
Electrolytes have a lot of responsibilities. They are involved in many activities in our bodies such as:
- Balancing the Amount of Water In Your Body
- Evening Out Your pH Level
- Moving Nutrients Into Your Cells
- Removing Waste Out of Your Cells
- Making Sure That Your Body Works Efficiently
- Helping Blood Clot
- Encouraging New Tissue Growth (3)
- Enabling Muscle Contractions (2)
Luckily, our bodies contain several different electrolytes. This is helpful because they have different responsibilities they need to perform. The main electrolytes found in our bodies include:
Cells and blood have some calcium in them.(5) However, 99 percent of calcium is actually found in the bones. Calcium is also responsible for maintaining a normal heart rhythm. (5) Your body determines the amount of calcium in cells and blood. It moves calcium out of bones and into the blood so that you have an even level of calcium in the blood. If you do not consume enough calcium, then too much calcium is removed from the bones. This will weaken your bones and make them easy to break.
Balancing fluid in your body is what chloride does. It also helps ensure proper blood volume, blood pressure, and pH of your body fluids.(5) Chloride in your body comes from the salt that you consume in foods.
The majority of magnesium in our body is stored in our bones.(6) Our blood only contains a small amount. Magnesium is necessary to form our bones and teeth. It also maintains normal nerve and muscle function. (6) Many enzymes in the body depend on magnesium to work properly. The level of magnesium in the blood depends on how the body obtains magnesium from foods. The body excretes magnesium in urine and stool.
Phosphorous is involved in forming bones and teeth. It also decides how our body uses carbohydrates and fats. In addition, phosphorous is needed for growing, maintaining, and repairing cells. (7) Phosphorous is also responsible for:
- Kidney Function
- Muscle Contractions
- Normal Heartbeat
Sodium in our bodies is mostly found in our blood and the fluid surrounding cells. Sodium is important because it keeps the fluid in our bodies balanced. In addition, it is involved in keeping our nerves and muscles working properly. We obtain sodium by consuming food and beverages. We lose it through sweat and urine. Kidneys need to keep an even level of sodium to stay healthy. If sodium consumption and loss are not in balance, the total amount of sodium in our bodies is affected. (9)
Now that we’ve discussed the electrolytes and their responsibilities, let’s discuss the correct daily value you should consume of each electrolyte. Electrolyte benefits are many.
What is the Suggested Intake of Each Electrolyte?
As you probably already know, vitamins and minerals usually have a daily recommended allowance. That basically means there is an ideal amount that you should consume each day. For example: (17)
- Chloride has a recommended daily allowance of 3.8 grams to 5.8 grams per day. This means you should consume no less than 3.8 grams and no more than 5.8 grams per day.
- Sodium has a recommended daily allowance of 500 mg to 2300 mg per day. This means you should consume no less than 500 mg and no more than 2300 mg per day.
- Calcium has a recommended daily allowance of 500 mg to 1200 mg per day. This means you should consume no less than 500 mg and no more than 1200 mg per day.
- Magnesium has a recommended daily allowance of 310 mg to 420 mg per day. This means you should consume no less than 310 mg and no more than 420 mg per day.
- Potassium has a recommended daily allowance of 3500 mg to 4700 mg per day. This means you should consume no less than 3500 mg and no more than 4700 mg per day.
Now that you know what the daily recommended amount of each electrolyte is, we will discuss the symptoms of not having enough electrolytes in your body.
Signs of Electrolyte Deficiency
There are many signs and symptoms when your body is too low on electrolytes. If you have any of the following symptoms, you probably have an electrolyte deficiency.
- Fatigued Muscles
- Muscle Cramping
- Frequent Thirst
- Excessive Urination
- Fast or Irregular Heartbeat
- Swollen Ankles
- Shallow Breathing
- Salt Craving
- Numb and Tingly Body Parts
In addition to these physical symptoms, there are a few mental issues that an electrolyte deficiency can cause.
Some of these symptoms are:
Now you know the symptoms of an electrolyte deficiency. In the next section, we will discuss signs of electrolyte toxicity.
Signs of Too Many Electrolytes
Unfortunately, it is possible to consume too many electrolytes as well. In this section, we will discuss the toxicity symptoms of all 5 electrolytes. Here are the symptoms of toxicity of each of the them.(16)
- Excessive Thirst
- Muscle Twitching
- Excessive Thirst
- Frequent Urination
- Bone Pain
- Muscle Weakness
- Confusion, Lethargy, and Fatigue
- Anxiety and D. epression
- High Blood Pressure
- Abdominal Pain
- Facial Flushing
- Stomach Cramps
- Muscle Weakness
- Tiredness or Weakness.
- Feeling of Numbness or Tingling.
- Nausea or Vomiting.
- Trouble Breathing.
- Chest Pain.
- Palpitations or Irregular Heartbeats.
- Hand Tremors
- Muscle Twitching
- Nausea, Vomiting.
- Numbness or Tingling
- Prolonged Muscle Spasms
When we’re physically active, our bodies produce heat. So we start sweating to prevent overheating. Loss of water in this way can lead to dehydration. If you do overheat, it can result in dizziness, thirst, headaches, nausea, muscle spasms, cramps, fatigue and disorientation.
The human body can produce up to two liters of sweat in an hour. This amount is highly dependent on environmental conditions and exercise intensity. When you lose too much water, you can significantly affect how the body functions at rest. It can result in a significant decrease in performance during exercise.(16) Now we will discuss the benefits of electrolytes.
There are many benefits of electrolytes. In this section, we will discuss each of the electrolytes and their benefits.
Sodium is beneficial because it prevents sunstroke, and muscle cramps. It also creates smooth brain functioning, and anti-aging properties.
Calcium promotes weight loss, decreases kidney stones and kidney disease. It also balances blood pressure and promotes dental health.
Magnesium has several benefits as well. It relieves insomnia, and asthma. It also improves digestion and protects against diabetes. It also promotes bone and heart health.
Potassium helps protect against stress, and keeps your heart healthy. It also promotes kidney health and stabilizes blood sugar. Furthermore, it supports brain functioning, muscle development, and nerve function.
Bicarbonate, or baking soda, also has many benefits. It works well as an antacid, toothpaste, and body scrub. It also helps to take the sting out of bug bites, and the pain out of a sunburn. In addition, it helps soothe diaper rash. There are also various ways of household cleaning with baking soda as well.
How to Correct Electrolyte Deficiencies
Now that you know more about symptoms of deficiencies, we can discuss some treatments and expand on the electrolyte benefits.
Electrolyte deficiencies can be corrected a few different ways. Many will be corrected by simply taking a multivitamin. Another option is to add sea salt to their diet. There are also electrolyte powders and drinks that will benefit you if you have an electrolyte deficiency. Furthermore, others correct their deficiency by adding cream of tarter to their diet.
How to Maintain the Correct Balance of Electrolytes
- Eat Whole Foods
The best way to get all the nutrients your body needs is to eat whole foods the majority of the time. You must avoid junk food. Eating a balanced diet full of fresh produce, lean protein, and healthy fats gives all the nutrients you need to keep your body in balance.
- Reduce Salt
Most processed foods contain a very high amount of salt. Salad dressing, sauces, highly processed desserts, and soda are all major sources of sodium! When you cook your own food, replace table salt with sea salt.
- Drink Water
Water helps keep your metabolism and digestive system in check.
- Recover after Exercise
The best way to recover after working out is by eating food sources that contain potassium and sodium. Some examples are papaya, broth, milk, sweet potatoes, and coconut water. You also can get electrolytes from supplements. This will reduce muscle fatigue after a workout.
- Take an Epsom Salt Bath
Your body absorbs magnesium better through your skin than through your digestive system.(16) If you’re experiencing cramps, insomnia or anxiety, you should try taking an Epsom salt. The reason that it works is because it is rich in magnesium.
Electrolytes are essential for keeping your body at optimal health. However, they can only do it when your body has the proper amount. You can heal your body by eating a nutrient-packed diet, drinking plenty of water, and replenishing any lost electrolytes. This is the best way for you to maintain a balanced and healthy body. This is why, it is important to know about the electrolyte benefits.
- Hyponatremia. Merck Manual Professional Version. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/endocrine-and-metabolic-disorders/electrolyte-disorders/hyponatremia. Accessed April 6, 2018.