What is the role of electrolytes in the body?
Electrolytes are the smallest of chemicals important to cellular function. There roles are vast – they help to maintain cell membrane integrity, they are involved in chemical reactions, manufacturing of energy, fluid movement in the body and critical for muscle contraction – like the heart!
During exercise or in a hot environment, (like a sauna) a person can sweat up to 2 litres per hour. When we sweat, we release mainly salt, chloride and potassium. Rehydration can only take place with we rehydrate with both water and minerals. When we rehydrate when we eat, we often get adequate minerals from our food. If you are not eating after sweating, then it is critically important to rehydrate with minerals.
What constitutes minerals?
Minerals in the body consist of sodium, potassium, chloride, bicarbonate, calcium, magnesium and phosphate. Sodium is the main cation outside the cell.
Sodium is the main cation OUTSIDE of the cell. Sodium and chloride work together to maintain fluid balance and pressure in different compartments of the body.
Potassium on the other hand, is the main cation INSIDE the cell. It plays a very important role in maintaining the heart beat and blood pressure in the body, while also balancing other electrolytes. It is not uncommon for people to be deficient in potassium, due to our insulting agricultural practices.
Magnesium is probably one of the most underrated minerals in the body. Magnesium deficiency is rampant and the devastating consequences of magnesium deficiency impact over 300 biochemical reactions in the body while also playing a critical role in DNA and RNA synthesis. The importance of magnesium cannot be understated. It helps to regulate blood glucose, nerve and muscle contractions, heart rate, osteoblast activity, boosts immunity, and many others. It helps to keep inflammatory markers down, prevents colon cancer, migraines, asthma, hypertension and other vascular diseases.
Calcium, like magnesium is also involved in muscle contractions and transmission of nerve messages. It is needed for optimal blood clotting, it tells sodium to initiate a contractions so you have the ability to do things like type on your computer or pick up your cell phone.
After calcium, the second most abundant mineral in the body is phosphorus. Phosphate is a bone strengthener, but it also helps to produce energy inside the cell. It is a builder of DNA and helps to support a healthy cell membrane.
Last but not least is bicarbonate. Bicarbonate helps to maintain PH in the body and and helps with lactic acid breakdown.
Now to the important question.. where do we get these important electrolytes from?
Most of the electrolyte drinks on the market are full of sugar. Sugar hinders the processing of a hydration drink because absorption is slowed. Plain water on the other hand passes right through. The sweet spot is to drink water rich in electrolytes so that the minerals can easily get in to the cell.
Instead of gravitating to a sugary drink when feeling dehydrated, opt for a salty electrolyte rich drink. You can achieve this by adding Body Bio mixed minerals to your water, Body bio’s E-lyte or E-lyte sport or using Quinton Hypertonic solution in your water a few times per day. Adding a pinch of celtic sea salt can also be beneficial. Personally, I add a few teaspoons of Body Bio mixed minerals to my morning power shake and I also add a vial of Quinton Hypertonic 1-2 times per day.