You’ve probably heard about the importance of electrolytes, whether it’s for after a workout or to fight dehydration. But what exactly are electrolytes, what are their benefits, and how can you get them in the body? Get your answers here.
Electrolytes are electrically charged minerals which are essential to many vital body functions. Our bodies don’t produce essential vitamins and minerals—we can only get them through our diet. Among other things, electrolytes regulate the balance of fluids and the pH levels (acid/alkaline) in your body, and they help you produce energy. Sodium, calcium, potassium, chloride, phosphate, and magnesium are all electrolytes.
Sodium, potassium, and magnesium are often considered “the big 3” when it comes to electrolytes. Maintaining a balance of these and other key minerals is key to good health and optimal physical performance. Benefits of these electrolytes include
Particularly for athletes, sodium, potassium, and magnesium work as an effective team to regulate and sustain performance through optimal hydration, balanced pH levels, and healthy muscle function.
The amount of electrolytes you need on a daily basis varies based on factors like age, activity level, water consumption, and climate.
We get electrolytes from the foods and fluids we eat and drink, and we deplete them through natural body functions like sweat, urine, breath and other excretions. That means that while the body is good at regulating electrolytes under normal conditions, however, you may lose electrolytes faster than your diet can replace them in the following cases:
Electrolyte balance can make the difference between feeling energized, expectant and ready or feeling completely off your game. Signs of low electrolyte levels include fatigue, headache, nausea, blood pressure changes, muscle cramps, and simply not feeling well.
So how do you make sure you’re getting enough?
Of course, the best way to maintain and restore electrolytes in your body is through nutrition: drink plenty of water and eat foods rich in electrolytes like spinach, kale, watercress, strawberries, oranges, avocados, and beans.
When your electrolytes are out of balance, you can also replace them through supplementation. There are products specially formulated to quickly restore your electrolyte balance.
Electrolyte supplements come in many forms—from drinks to tablets to powders that you dissolve into water. If you’re looking to incorporate electrolytes into your diet via supplements, look for low or no-sugar options. And read the labels, as some options don’t necessarily have electrolytes in them.