The Importance of Electrolytes in the Body
Anyone who demands more from their bodies during workouts or competition should be thinking about electrolytes. But what are they and why are they so important?
Electrolytes are essential minerals required for the daily diet of all healthy adults and play a crucial role in various physiological processes. There are five core electrolytes – sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. These electrically charged minerals each have a unique function within the body, but all work together to help your body function properly. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why electrolyte balance is important.
Let’s get to know these essential electrolytes, take a closer look at the role of electrolytes in the body, and explore how electrolyte function supports performance and overall well-being.
Did you know? Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. Phosphorus is the second.
What are Electrolytes & How Do They Work?
Electrolytes work by facilitating electrical impulses for cell communication and optimal cell function. These electrically charged minerals work together throughout the body to help maintain homeostasis – the body’s internal state of balance. It’s an essential function for life as we know it and the human body has many regulatory mechanisms in place to help maintain homeostasis.
Electrolytes & Hydration
Electrolytes are closely linked to hydration. Water is a crucial element in the body and every cell contains water and varying degrees of electrolytes. These electrically charged minerals are extremely important, because they help to control the flow of water in and out of cells. Sodium and potassium are particularly important in this regard.
Sodium helps maintain fluid balance outside cells, while potassium works inside cells. This balance is essential for proper cell hydration, nerve function, and blood pressure regulation. Overall, fluid balance is a tightly regulated internal process and cannot work efficiently without water and electrolytes.
Electrolytes & Nerve Impulses
Electrolytes are essential for proper nerve transmission. The key minerals which help conduct nerve impulses include potassium, calcium, and magnesium. They help transmit electrical impulses that enable nerves to transmit signals efficiently. Electrolytes have the capacity to become electrolyzed, hence why the term has electricity built in. They are ionic, meaning they can either carry a positive or negative electrical charge when dissolved in water. The charges are extremely important, as cells rely upon them to help communicate messages between the brain and body. These signals are called nerve impulses and they make muscle cells contract all over your body – including your heart!
Electrolytes & Muscle Contraction
Electrolytes are essential for proper muscle contraction. Calcium and sodium ions are responsible for initiating muscle contractions, while potassium ions aid in muscle relaxation. Calcium and magnesium are required for muscles to function properly. Both minerals aid in muscle contraction, which is required for the body to move. When calcium enters muscle cells, it stimulates muscle fibers to contract. Magnesium helps to regulate muscle contractions by counteracting calcium. When magnesium enters muscle cells it essentially blocks calcium to help muscles to relax. It’s important to have a balance of the two minerals so muscles can properly contract and relax.
Here are a few things to keep in mind for daily hydration, especially if you engage in intense exercise or have high performance goals.
- Have an individualized hydration plan and make it a habit
- Understand your sweat rate – especially if you’re active in hot weather
- Monitor hydration status by keeping track of your fluid intake.
- Hydrate with cool fluids around activity (before, during, and after)
- Rehydrate with water plus balanced electrolytes intake as needed
- AMIN.O. ENERGY – A sparkling, pre-mixed drink with caffeine and electrolytes for anytime hydration + energy.
- Suitable for use in the morning, before, during, and after exercise, or anytime you need it!
All electrolytes work together in some shape and form. There may be a key electrolyte responsible for a certain function, but the other essential electrolytes are certainly working in the background. Understanding the importance of electrolytes allows us to make informed choices about our diet, hydration, and overall well-being. By ensuring an adequate intake of electrolytes and maintaining a balanced lifestyle, we can support optimal body function and get more out of every day!