What are Electrolytes?

Understanding how electrolytes work is great knowledge to have at your disposal.  The term “electrolyte” refers to different salts in the body. Sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium, and calcium are major electrolytes. Each performs a different function to ensure that your body works effectively and efficiently. Such essential salts are comprised of positively and negatively charge parts, known as cations and anions. These ions are necessary to regulate electrical activity in the body like skeletal muscle contraction, central nervous system, heart contraction, including cell hydration.  Therefore, the human body needs requires these minerals to operate effectively.


Now that you understand what electrolytes and why the body needs them, we can look at when you may need them.  You should consider what kind of strenuous activity you are involved in and under what conditions, heat, humidity factor and so on.  Prolonged exercise requires sufficient restoration of electrolytes in the body.  Balance is crucial in your body.  In the case when the rate of electrolyte loss exceeds the rate of replacement, problems can occur.  If you put your body through a tough, tasking workout for a sustained period, you should keep an eye on your electrolytes.


By consuming foods that contain natural salt levels and high potassium levels, you may adequately restore and maintain electrolyte balance in your system.  This can also be done with sports drinks that are specific to electrolyte replacement. Consuming foods such as oranges, bananas, tomatoes, potatoes, kiwis, dried beans, peaches, and wheat bran will help in the process of maintaining balance of electrolytes.  Maintaining a healthy diet containing such foods helps supply your body with the electrolytes necessary for physical activity. Normally, a diet for active people should comprise of about 500-600mg of sodium daily to deliver adequate reserves.


There are several common electrolytes found in the body, each serving a specific and important role, but most are in some part responsible for maintaining the balance of fluids between the intracellular (inside the cell) and extracellular (outside the cell) environments. This balance is necessary for hydration, nerve impulses, muscle function, and pH level. Disruption of the balance between water and electrolytes is conducive to neuromuscular issues like muscle cramping for instance. Understanding the role of electrolytes in your body allows you to take the necessary steps to ensure a balanced diet to ensure that you do your best to look after your body and be at your best.