What’s the deal with electrolytes?
Electrolytes are a hot topic these days, but what is the big fuss about? Electrolytes are essential macro-minerals required for various important processes in the body, including: fluid balance, muscle contraction/relaxation, nerve transmissions and pH balance.
Everybody needs electrolytes. Essential means these macro-minerals must be obtained through diet because our bodies cannot make them. You are most likely already familiar with the electrolyte minerals: sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Eating a variety of whole foods, including organic and local produce and grains, provides the best source of electrolytes. Organic foods have been shown to be 5% to 50% higher in electrolyte minerals than non-organic foods, and the refining and processing of food removes minerals from food.
Although adequate electrolyte minerals can be obtained through a balanced whole food diet, there are circumstances where and electrolyte supplement might be helpful:
- medications that interfere with mineral absorption
- high exercise frequency; heavy sweating
- severe dehydration
- imbalanced pH
- diets low in minerals (ie. the ketogenic diet)
- poor diet
Did you know that the consumption of refined and processed foods, high-sugar foods, caffeine and alcohol could lead to an electrolyte imbalance? Just one more reason to clean up that diet.
The electrolyte minerals play many important roles in the body. They help maintain the balance of fluid in and out of the cells, as well as the fluid and pH balance in the body and blood. Electrolytes help regulate blood pressure and heart beat. They are involved in energy production by helping with the production of ATP, the conversion of glucose to glycogen, the metabolism of carbohydrates and fat for fuel, and the metabolism of protein for growth and tissue repair. These important minerals are involved in muscle contraction and relaxation, nerve messaging, and bone development and health. Electrolytes are also essential for heart function:
As you can see, electrolytes are a big deal. Make sure you’re eating a well balanced diet full of whole foods to ensure you are getting enough of these important minerals. If you fall into any of the fore mentioned categories then perhaps it’s time to consider an electrolyte supplement, like NutriChem’s Electrolyte Rescue. The RDA’s for electrolytes are:
A nutrition assessment can help highlight areas of imbalance, which can then be nutritionally supported to improve overall well-being.
Written by Kate Orlando, RHN and Sports Nutrition Expert
About The Writer
Kate graduated from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition in 2010. As a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Sports Nutrition Expert she is passionate about helping people on their journey to health. Kate recognizes that there is no one-size- fits-all approach to wellbeing. She uses education, lifestyle assessment and meal planning to create a personalized approach to help her clients achieve their goals.
As a marathon and trail runner, Kate understands first hand the important correlation between food and performance, and works with clients to support digestion, optimal energy and recovery. She is a certified Sigvaris fitter and is currently enrolled in the Health and Fitness Promotion Program at Algonquin College. Kate has special interest in digestive health, weight loss, energy and sports nutrition.