Electrolyte Balance: A Definitive Guide to Your Overall Health

Electrolytes are something many people do not think of, but they are critically important to good health. The human body is made up of around 60% water, which makes proper hydration critical. It is especially critical to hydrate during the hot summer months or during periods of heavy physical labor or exercise. Although water is enough to satisfy hydration levels, there is more to keeping the body running correctly. Electrolytes are essential for good health. 

What Are Electrolytes?

Electrolytes are a group of essential minerals found in the blood. They are sometimes found in drinking water, but not always in adequate amounts, especially for athletes. People who are physically active and sweat a lot may need to supplement with an electrolyte mix. The following are the key electrolytes the body needs for proper function. 

  • Potassium
  • Sodium
  • Phosphate
  • Chloride
  • Bicarbonate
  • Magnesium

Electrolytes are critical because they keep the central nervous system functioning properly, control the contraction of muscles, and keep the body hydrated. These minerals are expelled when a person begins to sweat. A lack of these key minerals can cause the body’s systems to malfunction and make a person feel ill. 

Signs of Electrolyte Imbalances

Some people do not know they have an electrolyte imbalance, especially if it is a minor one. The following are some of the key signs people may experience when they have an electrolyte imbalance. 

  • Increased fatigue
  • Muscle cramps
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Changes in blood pressure

Those who are working out or physically laboring in the heat will start to sweat profusely. One of the first minerals lost in sweat is sodium. Sodium and chloride work together to keep the body’s pH stable and carry fluids to the organs. It is essential athletes and physical laborers stay hydrated at all times. 

Most people get enough electrolytes from the foods they eat, but these can become depleted with excessive sweating or during periods of illness, such as diarrhea. Supplements are sometimes necessary when electrolyte levels fall considerably. 

Electrolyte Imbalances Happen More Frequently as People Age

As people age, they are more likely to suffer from electrolyte imbalances. As people grow older, the kidneys cease functioning as they should. Year by year, kidney function tends to decline and can lead to electrolyte imbalances because the kidneys do not filter normally. People with a history of heart disease, pancreatitis, respiratory failure, and burns can all suffer from electrolyte issues. 

How to Get the Electrolytes the Body Needs?

Eating a nutritious diet is one of the most effective ways to get electrolyte numbers under control. The following foods are rich in electrolytes. 

  • Spinach
  • Watermelon
  • Citrus fruits
  • Coconut water
  • Sports drinks

Sometimes, people need to supplement with an electrolyte drink to restore proper mineral levels after serious bouts of diarrhea, dehydration, or excessive sweating. Those who have chronic electrolyte issues need to see their doctors to determine the underlying cause and get relief. 

Electrolyte Imbalances Should Not Be Ignored

One of the biggest mistakes people can make is overlooking their electrolyte imbalances. When in their severest form, these imbalances can impact the function of the heart. 

It is essential to eat a varied diet that is rich in nutritious fruits and vegetables. During periods of heavy physical activity or illness, supplements may be necessary. If you need a supplement, choose one that offers all the necessary minerals for proper electrolyte balance. 

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