Everyone seems to talking about them but what are they and how can understanding electrolytes improve your overall health and hydration? Electrolytes are minerals that exist in the blood as acids, bases, and salts. Sodium, potassium, and magnesium are examples of electrolytes. When these minerals are dissolved, they break apart into charged particles called ions. The charge from these ions creates electricity that helps sustain not only human life, but plant and animal life too! When combined with the rest of your body's functions, electrolytes are the driving force behind proper blood pressure, circulation of nutrients, rebuilding damaged tissues, expediting waste from the body, and so much more. Without these little guys, life just wouldn't be possible.
The Balancing Act
The true balancing act at work here is that too much or too few electrolytes can make a big difference. There are common causes for imbalances, from drinking too much water and diluting your electrolytes to taking in too many electrolytes. Although our bodies are good at calibrating to restore balance, it's best to always be aware of what can cause a shortage or abundance of electrolytes. Anything from too much sodium in your diet, illness, medications, and most commonly, perspiration, could be the culprit. Symptoms you might notice are bloating, headaches, muscle twitching, numbness, dizziness, and extreme fatigue.
An Easy Fix
If you ever feel like your body is a little out of whack, don't worry, restoring balance is as easy as (less) cake. The first step is maintaining a well-balanced diet. In order for electrolytes to flourish, they need a variety of fruits and vegetables like bananas and tomatoes. Cutting down on sodium packed processed food will help make keeping the balance easier. Second, make sure you're consuming enough liquids and avoiding dehydration. This may mean increasing your water intake if you're sick or doing a task that requires a lot of energy. Skip the soda and stick with small sips of a sports drink. Want to forego the extra sugar? Make your own! All it takes is a bottle of Eldorado or any other favorite bottled water and 45 mg of sodium. If you feel like your body still needs an extra push, try out a few supplements. Magnesium citrate and magnesium aspartate paired with potassium is a sure fire way to get you back on track. For an added boost you can also try one of our flavored vitamin waters.
So next time you're breaking a sweat or feeling a little under the weather, don't forget to listen to your body! Sometimes those electrolytes need a helping hand.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in August of 2015 and has been updated since.