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Electrolytes: Uses, Imbalance and Supplements

in All , Health Care , Nutrition

Electrolytes are required by our bodies, but the human body already has electrolytes. They are provided by a daily diet, and the body makes the most out of them.

They include groups of minerals like magnesium, zinc, sodium, potassium, and chloride. Sometimes when you excessively sweat, your body feels grainy.

The reason behind that is the electrolyte pouring out of your skin pores.

The primary function of electrolytes is to control fluid levels in the body. It further maintains the normal functioning of the kidney, heart, muscles, and brain.

Electrolyte Imbalance

The levels of electrolytes often go high or low in the blood, which causes an electrolyte imbalance. Electrolyte levels get disturbed due to water levels and other factors in the body.

Many essential electrolytes (potassium and sodium) get lost due to sweating during exercise. Their levels also get disturbed due to rapid loss of fluids, like in situations of vomiting and diarrhea.

Kidneys and other hormones play a role in the regulation of electrolytes. If levels get too high, kidneys filter them from the body, whereas various hormones function to balance the levels.

Uses and Benefits of taking Electrolyte supplements 

1.     Water electrolytes for Nervous System Function

Your brain transfers electrical signals to communicate with other cells around the body through nerve cells.

These special signals are known as nerve impulses. They are generated by the alterations that occur to the electrical charge of the nerve cell membrane.

Such changes happen due to the movement of sodium electrolytes across the nerve cell membrane.

2.     Muscle Function

The calcium electrolyte is required by the body for muscle contraction.

It enables muscle fibers to slide and move one another as the muscle gets shorten and contract.

Magnesium is also needed for this process as it helps muscle fibers to slide outward and allow muscles to relax after contraction.

3.     Water electrolytes for Proper Hydration

Water should be present in the right amounts inside and outside of cells within the body.

Sodium electrolyte helps in maintaining fluid balance by osmosis.

In the osmosis process, water flows through the cell membrane from a dilute solution (few electrolytes and more water) towards a concentrated solution (more electrolytes and less water).

4.     Serum electrolytes for Internal pH Levels

Your body needs to balance internal pH for normal health.

pH measures the acidic and alkaline nature of a solution. In the body, it is controlled by weak acids and bases and chemical buffers, which make efforts to minimize alterations within your internal environment.

For instance, the normal pH range of blood is around 7.35-7.45. If any changes occur to this level, your body will not function normally, and you will become sick.

Sources of Electrolytes

To maintain and balance electrolyte levels, the best way is to have a healthy diet.

The primary food sources for balancing electrolytes include fruits and vegetables. A common source of chloride and sodium is table salt as per the western diet.

Here are some foods listed below which are the good source of electrolytes:

  1. Sodium: includes food like table salt, cheese, and pickled foods.
  2. Potassium:it can be obtained from fruits and vegetables such as sweet potato, bananas, and avocado.
  3. Calcium:it can be obtained through green vegetables, dairy products and fortified dairy alternatives.  
  4. Chloride: the best source of chloride is table salt.
  5. Magnesium: it can be obtained through nuts and seeds.

Electrolyte Supplements

Some people take electrolyte water or supplement with calcium and sodium electrolytes to gain enough electrolytes.

  • However, a healthy and balanced diet that includes the best sources of electrolytes is generally sufficient for most people.
  • Your body keeps on regulating electrolytes levels in the body.
  • But in some specific conditions (diarrhea or heavy vomiting), in which electrolytes get lost, supplementation with some rehydrating solution becomes necessary to maintain electrolytes levels in the body.

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