Electrolyte Smarts

July 16, 2010 at 5:51 pm Leave a comment

Next time you sip a cool drink after sweating a lot in the heat; ask yourself if it has electrolytes.  

Electrolytes are important because they are what your cells (especially nerve, heart, muscle) use to maintain voltages across their cell membranes and to carry electrical impulses (nerve impulses, muscle contractions) across themselves and to other cells.   The main electrolytes in the blood are sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, phosphate and carbonate.   

Most commonly problems occur when the level of sodium, potassium or calcium is off.  Sodium is the major positive ion in fluid outside of the cells.  When you perspire, you lose a lot of salt.  Having a low sodium level can cause confusion, drowsiness, muscle weakness, and seizures.   On the other hand, when you don’t drink enough fluids and there is too much salt, it can result in swelling and blood pressure to rise.

Keeping electrolytes balanced is especially important for people who are athletes, work outdoors, perspire a lot, lie in the sun or even work in the garden.  They can be critical for older people who are more likely to develop electrolyte imbalances because as the body ages, the kidneys function less well and due to the use of certain drugs.  When children or infants vomit or have diarrhea, they also lose electrolytes.  These electrolytes and the fluids must be replaced to prevent dehydration and seizures.   

While many sports drinks have sodium chloride or potassium chloride added to them, they are typically loaded with sugar.  Please do not give these sugary sports drinks to a sick child!  It is much healthier to add a couple of drops of pure electrolytes to the recommended amount of water, usually 8 ounces.   One such product is ConcenTrace made by Trace Minerals Research, a naturally occurring, liquid trace element and food supplement which contains a full spectrum of trace and ultra-trace elements in ionic form (available at the Advanced Wellness Center).

 Be electrolyte smart and keep some on hand to maintain healthy cell communication.


Entry filed under: Health Advice. Tags: , , , , .

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