You hear the word all the time:
electrolytes. You know that it has something to do with rehydrating you and
making you healthier. But what are electrolytes really doing in that body of
yours? Well get ready for a science lesson, ‘cause here’s the sitch.
“Electrolyte” is just a fancy way to say
salts, or ions. The term means that the ion is electrically charged, either
positively or negatively. The major electrolytes in your body are: calcium, potassium,
sodium, magnesium, chloride, bicarbonate, phosphate and sulfate.
So why are they important? Well, cells use
electrolytes to maintain voltage across their membranes and to carry electrical
impulses, like reflex reactions and muscle contractions. That means they regulate
your nerve and muscle function, your body’s hydration, the pH of your blood,
blood pressure and the rebuilding of damaged tissues. Your kidneys, which
filter the water for all of the ions in it, try to always keep the electrolyte
concentration in the blood constant no matter how much you eat or drink.
You lose electrolytes (especially potassium
and sodium) the most rapidly when you sweat—that’s why it tastes so salty!
Those lost electrolytes have to be replaced to keep all of your bodily fluid
If you lose too many, your muscles
(including your heart!) can become too weak, or sometimes, they’ll try to work
too hard. The most common symptoms of an electrolyte imbalance are muscle
spasms, fatigue, confusion, weakness and blood pressure change.
Dehydration is the biggest cause of
electrolyte imbalances. However, experts say that it isn’t ideal to consume
large quantities of water after heavy exercise because it will dilute your
bodily fluids and drop existing electrolyte levels too quickly. A great way to replenish your electrolytes are
by eating fresh fruits and vegetables, drinking sports drinks like Motive Pure,
Gatorade and Powerade, and by taking your vitamins. So stay healthy!
BY TESS MORAN ON 6/19/2012 3:57:00 PM
POSTED IN health, nutrition, sports