Electrolytes are an important part of living a healthy life. They help your body complete many essential processes.
But, what are electrolytes? Why are they important? How can I make sure I am getting enough electrolytes in my diet?
I'll help answer these questions and share exactly how to get more electrolytes to help get you on track to living a healthier lifestyle.
What Are Electrolytes?
“Electrolyte” is a broad term that refers to different particles that carry a positive or negative electric charge.
Electrolytes form when essential minerals are dissolved in liquid. When this happens, it breaks down the structure of the molecules, and then these particles develop a positive or negative charge.
In the health field, electrolytes generally refer to a specific set of these dissolved and electrically charged minerals.
They are known as essential minerals.
This means that these minerals are needed to help your body function properly. In addition, your body cannot produce them on its own, and needs them replenished from outside sources.
Common electrolytes include potassium, sodium, calcium, phosphate, bicarbonate, magnesium, and chloride.
Why Do I Need Electrolytes?
As discussed, electrolytes are essential to proper body functions. These charged particles help with a variety of activities in your body.
Here’s what some of them help your body do:
- Conduct nervous impulses
- Regulate muscle contractions
- Balance the amount of water in your body (proper hydration)
- Move nutrients into your cells
- Move wastes out of your cells
- Balance PH levels
- Help with brain function
- Aid in fluid balance
- Help with digestion
What Is An Electrolyte Imbalance?
An electrolyte imbalance is when you have too little or too much of a specific electrolyte. Electrolyte deficiencies are actually pretty common.
We can lose electrolytes through our sweat or urine, this can cause dehydration making it hard for your body to balance the demands of even normal activities. It is important to replenish electrolytes when they are low because, over the long-run, electrolyte imbalances can be bad for our health and results.
How To Tell If Your Electrolytes Are Low
When you don’t have enough electrolytes in your system, you can experience some degree of fatigue, headache, nausea, change in blood pressure, or muscle cramps.
So if you’re looking to avoid those symptoms, it’s best to keep your electrolyte levels in check and understand how to get electrolytes for your body.
Although not having enough electrolytes in your system is bad, you don’t want too many electrolytes either.
It’s pretty uncommon, but if you have too many electrolytes in your system, you can experience irregular heartbeat, weakness, confusion, or twitching.
It’s best to listen to your body and pay attention to the symptoms you are displaying. If you notice any of these specific symptoms, talk with your doctor.
So, if you are deficient, or even if you're looking to stay on top of your hydration, I'm sure you're wondering, "How can I get more electrolytes?"
Let's talk a few of the best ways to ensure you're getting the electrolytes your body needs.
How To Get More Electrolytes: 6 Ways
If you want to know how to get electrolytes into your body, try one or more of the following tips.
Eat Sodium-Rich Foods
If you're experiencing muscle cramps, there is a chance you're sodium deficient. Ever hear that if you have a charley horse, you should drink pickle juice?
If you were wondering how to replenish your electrolytes, these options can be very beneficial.
Be careful with sports drinks though.
Sports drinks are typically packed full of sugar, and can lead to over-consuming on calories very quickly.
Get Potassium-Rich Foods In Your Diet
Potassium helps support cell and heart function, prevents kidney stones, and regulates blood pressure.
Cramps, heart palpitations, and weakness often show up if you don’t have enough potassium in your diet. Avocados, sweet potatoes, and some fruits such as bananas are all great sources of potassium.
Consume Dairy Products
Dairy products are high in calcium and can help you meet your body's calcium requirements. Calcium is known for helping with bone health... but it does much more!
Calcium has an important role in the body. It's involved in bone health but also the contraction of muscles, transmission of nerve impulses, blood clotting, and even included in the secretion of some hormones.
Long-term calcium deficiencies can lead to bone and teeth problems. Short-term calcium deficiencies usually result in aches and fatigue.
Get Some Supplements
For those who don’t know what type of electrolytes they’re short on, or just want to make sure that they are getting enough electrolytes in their diet, a high-quality supplement could be beneficial.
Don't Forget Magnesium
Many Americans don't get nearly enough magnesium included into their diet on a consistent basis.
Magnesium is in higher amounts in foods such as green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, nuts & seeds, as well as black beans, chickpeas, and more!
Magnesium can help balance your body’s muscle function, bone development, relaxation of your mind and muscles, and can be beneficial to take before bed.
So if you're feeling tired, weak, or are even having tremors, there's a chance you could have a magnesium deficiency.
Without proper hydration, your body can’t use the minerals efficiently.
Drinking plenty of water helps dissolve the minerals and gives them the electrical charge needed to perform their tasks. Consistently getting in plenty of fluids throughout the day is key to staying balanced in essential minerals that support proper body function. When dehydration occurs, the body is deprived of fluids that distribute essential minerals to the body - so fill up a water bottle and drink up!
The amount of water a person needs depends on their activity level and body structure.
Generally, the taller and bigger you are, and the more exercise you get, the more water you’ll need. Sweat takes more fluids from the body than you would expect.
Otherwise, a good rule of thumb is planning to drink for 100-120 ounces or more of water every day ... Especially when playing sports or as we get into these warmer summer months!
The Bottom Line
Knowing how to replenish electrolytes can be a crucial aspect of maintain overall health.
By eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and dairy products can help you get the necessary electrolytes you need.
Supplements can also help you get electrolytes fast by conveniently adding these nutrients into your diet, especially during your long workouts or summer activities!
If you have any questions about electrolytes, supplements to help replenish electrolytes, or anything else ... we can help!
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