Electrolytes- what are they and why do we need them?

Electrolytes are minerals that have an electric charge in the body. They are important for the body to ensure it functions properly.  They are ideal for regulating nerve and muscle function, blood ph and pressure, and rebuilding damaged tissues. They also help with body hydration.

There are six electrolytes: Potassium, sodium, magnesium, bicarbonate, calcium, chloride, phosphorous

When we exercise, we tend to lose electrolytes due to sweating. You mainly lose sodium and potassium. This is why it is important to consume electrolytes through sports drinks or fruits and vegetables. The excess electrolytes are filtered out by our kidneys. As an athlete, it is very important to consume an adequate supply of electrolytes to ensure optimum performance.

Electrolyte imbalances can be caused by many different factors, such as illnesses, medications, dehydration or chronic disorders. It can be caused by losing too much fluid from having a poor diet or trouble absorbing nutrients from food. There are many symptoms included in fluid imbalance including muscle aches and spasms, anxiety, headaches, thirst, fever, irregular heartbeats, joint pain, dizziness and much more.

To prevent Electrolyte Imbalance:

It may be caused by having a poor diet. Diets high in processed foods that contain a lot of sodium can decrease the number of other electrolytes in your body, especially potassium and magnesium. This is why it is ideal to eat whole, real foods, rather than junk food or take out. Vegetables and fruits are great sources of potassium and magnesium, especially avocados and bananas.

Many water dense foods can also help prevent electrolyte imbalance as well as dehydration. Some of these foods include celery, cucumber, watermelon and citrus fruits. It is also important to consume enough calcium. This can be found in leafy green vegetables and dairy foods.

It is also ideal to drink enough water to prevent electrolyte imbalance, however, you should not over do it. Over hydrating can also dilute your cells and cause electrolytes to rise too high or too low. Over hydrating is hard to do and very unlikely. You should consume around 8 glasses of water a day. If you exercise hard, you should consume more water and electrolytes. It may be hard to consume this much water, however, you can add flavors to your water such as strawberries to help it go down easier.

You can purchase electrolytes in supplement form. They can also be found in many multi vitamins.



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