What are Electrolytes?

Electrolytes are substances that become ions when in solution, and have the ability to conduct electricity. Electrolytes are an essential part of humans and of all higher life forms, and we cannot function without them.

Electrolytes can be thought of as the electric switches that activate our muscles and neurons, and they conduct the electrical impulses that make these parts of the body work. Electrolytes are responsible for regulating nerve and muscle function, hydration, oxygen and pH levels in the body.

Some of the main electrolytes found in the human body are: sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and chloride. The body loses a number of these electrolytes through a number of bodily functions, including sweating during exercise.

Where can I get Electrolytes from?

Electrolytes are naturally found within the human body, as well as in a variety of foods and supplements. Some popular sources of electrolytes are:

  • Sodium - table salt, beef, cheese, snacks, deli meats, canned foods
  • Potassium - bananas, tomatoes, oranges, potatoes, beans, raisins
  • Magnesium - nuts, beans, leafy green vegetables
  • Calcium - dairy, meat, eggs, asparagus

Electrolytes are common ingredients in sports drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade, as well as a number of endurance supplements.

What are Electrolytes's Benefits?

Proper electrolyte levels are vitally important to a healthy person, and need to be maintained to avoid a number of significant health issues. Supplementing with an electrolyte-based supplement offers a number of benefits, such as:

  • Rehydration
  • Increase energy levels (if they contain carbohydrates)
  • Help relieve hangover symptoms
  • Ensure proper muscle and nerve function
  • Avoid muscle cramping

What are Electrolytes's Side Effects?

Electrolytes should be in balance within the human body to ensure proper health. An imbalance of electrolytes, either from too little or too much of a specific electrolyte can cause health concerns. Some side effects of too much sodium are:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Weakness
  • Restlessness
  • Dizziness
  • High blood pressure

Electrolyte Supplements

There are a number of supplements containing electrolytes that will help to restore the levels in your body which may have been affected by dehydration or exercise:

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