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ELECTROLYTES: WHAT THEY ARE, WHAT THEY DO, WHERE TO GET THEM

Maintaining electrolyte balance is essential for normal nervous system function and many other important body functions as well. You hear a lot about avoiding electrolyte imbalance, but the severity of critical electrolyte imbalance often gets lost in translation.

Let's take a closer look at the important roles that electrolytes play in keeping your body functioning properly in a simplified way that is a little easier to understand. We'll talk about what they are, what they do, and how to get them.

What Are Electrolytes?

Electrolytes are minerals that become electrically charged ions once they are dissolved in water. Your body relies on electrical impulses for many of its vital functions, including one of the most important ones, beating your heart.

Once electrolytes turn into electrically charged ions, they can be either positively charged or negatively charged depending on their function within the body. Below is a list of electrolytes monitored by your doctor by blood testing and what each one does.

What Do Electrolytes Do?

Sodium

Sodium is a positively charged ion responsible for fluid regulation in the body and plays a major role in transporting electrical signals or messages between cells. Your brain, nervous system, and muscles all rely on electrical impulses delivered by sodium. Major fluctuations in sodium can cause:

  • Coma
  • Seizures
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Muscle weakness, spasms, or cramps
  • Loss of energy, drowsiness, and fatigue

Increased sodium or hypernatremia occurs when there is too much sodium in relation to water in the body. This can be caused by:

  • Kidney disease
  • Too little water intake
  • Loss of water from vomiting and/or diarrhea

Decreased sodium or hyponatremia occurs when the sodium in the body gets diluted by water. This can be caused by:

  • Extensive burns
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Drinking too much water
  • Liver and kidney diseases

Potassium

Potassium is a positively charged ion that is found inside your cells. Potassium is vital for proper cell function. It regulates your heartbeat and muscle function. Major fluctuations in potassium can cause:

  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Muscle damage
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Muscle weakness or spasms
  • Skipped heartbeats or palpitations

A kidney disorder usually causes increased potassium or hyperkalemia as your kidneys normally excrete potassium.

Decreased potassium or hypokalemia is usually caused by:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Kidney disease
  • Heavy sweating
  • Eating disorders

Chloride

Chloride is a negatively charged ion found in the fluid outside of your cells and in your blood. The body closely regulates chloride as it plays a major role in fluid balance throughout the body. Major fluctuations in chloride can cause:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Frequent vomiting
  • Prolonged diarrhea
  • Breathing problems
  • High blood pressure

Increased chloride or hyperchloremia can be caused by:

  • Diarrhea
  • Certain kidney diseases
  • Overactivity of the parathyroid

Decreased chloride or hypochloremia can be caused by:

  • Vomiting
  • Kidney disease
  • Heavy sweating
  • Certain kidney diseases

Bicarbonate

The bicarbonate ion functions as a buffer to help maintain ph balance in the blood and other bodily fluids. When your ph balance is off, there is either too much acidity in your system, acidosis, or too much alkalinity in your system, alkalosis. There are two types of each:

Respiratory Acidosis

This occurs when your lungs cannot remove enough carbon dioxide from your lungs when you exhale, and it builds up in your blood. Symptoms of respiratory acidosis include:

  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Extreme sleepiness

Common causes are:

  • Asthma
  • Emphysema
  • Severe pneumonia

Metabolic Acidosis

This is a buildup of acid in the body that originates in the kidneys. It happens as a result of the body not getting rid of the acid, or the level of the base gets too low. Symptoms of metabolic acidosis include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Extreme fatigue

Common causes are:

  • Ketone buildup in diabetics
  • Severe vomiting and diarrhea
  • Decreased sodium bicarbonate in the blood
  • Lactic Acid buildup from alcohol misuse, seizures, or cancer
  • Renal tubular acidosis when the kidneys don't release acid into the bloodstream

Respiratory Alkalosis

This occurs when there is too little carbon dioxide in your blood. Symptoms of respiratory alkalosis include:

  • Irritability
  • Muscle cramping
  • Muscle twitching
  • Tingling in fingers, toes, and lips

Common causes are:

  • Pain
  • High fever
  • Hyperventilation
  • Aspirin overdose

Metabolic Alkalosis

This occurs when your body loses too much acid, and bicarbonate blood levels get too high. Symptoms of metabolic alkalosis can include:

  • Irritability
  • Muscle cramping
  • Muscle twitching
  • Tingling in fingers, toes, and lips

Common causes are:

  • Kidney damage
  • Severe loss of fluids
  • Overuse of diuretics
  • Long periods of vomiting
  • Overactive adrenal gland

Where Do You Get Electrolytes?

The best way to maintain a healthy electrolyte balance is to eat a well-balanced diet. Some foods that provide electrolyte minerals include:

Sodium

  • Cheese
  • Table salt
  • Pickled food

Chloride

  • Table salt

Potassium

  • Bananas
  • Avocado
  • Sweet potato

Magnesium

  • Seeds and nuts

Calcium

  • Dairy products
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Fortified dairy alternatives

Your body produces and regulates bicarbonate, so it is not necessary to get through your diet. In most circumstances, adequate electrolyte levels can be maintained through the foods you eat. Exceptions would be if you sweat profusely during exercise or if you get sick and have an extended bout of vomiting and diarrhea.

Adding an oral hydration solution to your diet can ensure that you stay well hydrated and have some in reserve when you get sick. If you are hydrated, to begin with, then it will be easier to replenish electrolytes when the need arises.

HYDRATE is the perfect oral hydrating solution to add to your diet as it is made with whole, organic ingredients and the highest quality minerals on the planet. It tastes fantastic, so it's perfect for keeping kids and adults well hydrated on a daily basis.

Wrap Up

Electrolytes are essential for keeping your body healthy and functioning properly. Keeping them in balance isn't difficult, but it is necessary. Using an oral hydrating solution such as HYDRATE daily can keep you hydrated. By adding HYDRATE to your water, it makes the water more palatable and easier to drink the recommended daily amount.

HYDRATE and eating a well-balanced diet can keep your electrolytes in check whether you are engaging in exercise, sporting activities, or if you have a stomach bug. Staying on top of hydration is an important part of a good health and wellness routine.

So get some HYDRATE, add it to your water and drink up!

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