Electrolytes are minerals naturally found in bodily fluids (blood, urine, etc.). They’re essential to functions like regulation of fluid levels, muscular contractions, blood clotting, transmission of messages generated by nerve cells, muscles, the heart, and other cells, and formation of new tissues.
Natural electrolytes include sodium, potassium, phosphate, calcium, and chloride. You get electrolytes from the foods you eat, beverages you drink, and possibly the supplements you take. You need the right quantities and proportions of key electrolytes for your body to function normally.
Our bodies—the kidneys in particular—work to ensure these chemicals stay in balance. If something causes them to become out of balance, that’s called an electrolyte imbalance or an electrolyte disorder.