Why Do We Need Electrolytes To Function At Our Best?
If our electrolytes are out of balance, we can suffer from muscle weakness, confusion and fatigue. But if everything is working as it should, we maintain good brain health, our heart health is well supported, our bone strength can be improved, our fluid balance is well regulated while our nerves and muscles are functioning to the full.
Electrolytes are a type of particle that carry either a positive or negative charge when dissolved in water. They are found throughout the human body and are present in our blood, sweat and urine.
How do we ensure we have sufficient electrolytes?
They can be found in many of our foods. So if we eat a balanced, healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds, we are likely to be getting sufficient for our needs but supplements can also be added for a quick and convenient dose of these important minerals.
Some people choose to use supplements, such as electrolyte drinks or electrolyte powder, to help boost their intake but care should always be taken not to over use them and it is advisable to seek medical advice first – especially if suffering from a health condition.
More about those sources:
Sodium comes from cottage cheese, table salt, pickles and olives.
Phosphorus is available from meat, fish, poultry, dairy, nuts, seeds and legumes.
Magnesium can be found in nuts, seeds, dark chocolate, avocados, whole grains and beans.
Potassium comes from bananas, potatoes, spinach, lentils, beans, beets and dried fruit.
Chloride is found in table salt, seaweed, tomatoes, celery and olives.
How do we know if we have an electrolyte imbalance?
Electrolyte levels in the blood are usually closely regulated by the body to help keep them in balance but some of the common causes of low electrolytes include:
- Fluid loss caused by excessive sweating, diarrhea or vomiting
- Eating disorders
- Poor diet
- Kidney disease
- Severe burns
- Congestive heart failure
- Certain medications such as diuretics or laxatives
You might need to look further if you suffer from any of these common symptoms:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Fatigue and/or muscle weakness
- Stomach pain and/or vomiting
- Constipation and/or frequent urination
- Dry mouth and/or increased thirst
- Mood changes
- Loss of appetite
An electrolyte panel is a blood test that can help measure your levels and evaluate kidney function.
If you are concerned that you might have such an electrolyte imbalance, speak to your medical practitioner about getting tested so that the best course of treatment can be decided for you.
Of course, it cannot be overemphasized that the best way to replenish your electrolytes is to follow a healthy diet rich in nutrient-dense foods – fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes.