Electrolytes are essential nutrients that form ions in your body and thus maintain the fluid balance of the body. When we play sports or do any intense physical activity, we sweat a lot. To prevent dehydration, we usually drink lots of water, so the body has enough fluids. But one thing we mostly forget is to replenish our lost electrolytes. Electrolytes are salts that our body need to maintain the blood pressure and bodily fluids. They perform multiple functions such as regulating nerve functions, muscle functions, regulates all body fluids, including blood, and balances acidity levels of blood. Our body needs a small electric charge to function correctly, which is provided by the electrolytes. Find the importance of restoring your lost electrolytes from dehydration below.
Electrolytes are chemicals that conduct electricity upon mixing with water. The electrolytes in our body are sodium, calcium, potassium, magnesium and chloride. Electrolyte imbalance may happen when the level of the electrolytes in the body becomes too low or high. Electrolytes level can be affected due to various reasons such as fluid loss through intense physical activity, vomiting, diarrhea, specific medications, diabetes, chronic respiratory problems, fever, alcohol usage and few other factors. Therefore, you have to make sure that you are getting enough electrolytes to keep your body going.
Functions of electrolytes
Sodium is the essential mineral of the body. Hyponatremia or low amount of sodium can cause more water to move into the cells while high sodium or hypernatremia causes more water to move out of cells. The effects of this include headaches, lethargy, confusion, seizures, coma and even death.
The function of chloride is to maintain the balance of body fluids, blood pressure and blood volume. Low chloride or hypochloremia is caused by excessive vomiting, certain medications, heart and kidney problems. The high chloride or hyperchloremia is often caused by diarrhea.
The function of potassium is to perform nerve functions and muscle contractions in the body. It also helps in regulating the heartbeat. Low potassium or hypokalemia may cause an abnormal heartbeat and affect how glucogen is stored in your body. Severe deficiency may cause muscle weakness, muscle spasms, paralysis and even respiratory problems. High potassium or hyperkalemia may not cause symptoms, but in severe cases, it can cause the heartbeat to stop.
Magnesium is another vital electrolyte which regulates several biochemical reactions in the body including blood glucose control, protein synthesis, energy production, glycolysis, oxidative phosphorylation and several other enzyme functions. Low magnesium or hypomagnesemia has similar effects as hypokalemia and hypochloremia. Hypermagnesemia may cause breathing problems and heart problems, including cardiac arrest.
Calcium is one of the essential electrolytes in body which builds bones, teeth, nails and perform various other functions as well. It is the most abundant mineral in our body. It also ensures healthy communication between the brain and other parts of the body. Low calcium may not cause any symptoms, but severe deficiency may cause a change in skin, hair and nails. It may also cause yeast infections. High calcium may cause loss of appetite, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. In extreme cases, it causes shock, heart and kidney failure as well.
Symptoms of electrolyte imbalance
Signs of electrolyte imbalance depend on which type of electrolyte your body lacks. Each mineral is performing a different function in our body. In the case of electrolyte imbalance, you can experience these symptoms:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Nervous system disorders
- Irregular blood pressure
- Numbness and seizures
- Muscle spasms
- Excessive tiredness
- Confusion and trouble concentrating
- Bone disorders and joint pain
- Digestive issues such as cramps, diarrhea or constipation
Causes of electrolyte imbalance
Usually, electrolyte imbalance is perfectly normal for people who are involved in sports, athletics, bodybuilding, intense physical activity and excessive sweating. But there can be other causes of electrolyte imbalance as well. It includes:
Kidney problems, prolonged diarrhea and vomiting, poor diet, some drugs, acid-base imbalance, extreme dehydration, cancer treatment etc.
Here are some reasons for the importance of restoring your lost electrolytes from dehydration. It is very crucial to replenish our depleted electrolytes after physical activity. But it is not possible to get all the required electrolytes through your daily diet, except for sodium. We get enough sodium by the salts we consume in our food. To get other types of electrolytes, we need electrolyte supplements or drinks. It is an instant way to replenish the electrolytes in the body. These days, it is challenging to find an electrolyte drink that meets the premium standards. Majority of the brands use excessive minerals, vitamins, artificial flavours and high amount of sugar. Even the leading sports brands are using substandard ingredients in their products these days. Make sure to buy products from a trusted brand such as BIOLyte which has no extra chemicals and additives in products. Restoring your lost electrolytes from dehydration is made simpler, (and tastier!) with BIOLyte.