Electrolytes include sodium, potassium, and chloride. These substances are essential for proper cellular metabolism, cellular chemical balance, both inside and outside of the cells, and other daily bodily functions. Nerve and muscle functions are dependent upon electrolytes. Everyone needs electrolytes to maintain core body temperature and to avoid heat cramps, exhaustion and heat stroke. For those who work out regularly, run marathons, or do work that causes them to perspire for more than two hours at a time, electrolytes are especially important for optimal performance.
Do I Need To Supplement with Electrolytes?
A deficiency is rare, however there are instances where extra electrolytes are needed. Without sufficient electrolytes you may experience muscle cramps and dizziness during a workout or any other type of physical exertion. If you experience vomiting or diarrhea, you may wish to add extra electrolytes, since your body will be losing electrolytes and water during this process. The same is applicable due to sweating after breaking a fever.
Dehydration and Electrolytes
When you exercise or do any physical work that causes perspiration, your body loses water, which could lead to dehydration. You may think drinking water will remedy the situation, but if you become dehydrated, your body needs more than just plain water to replace the lost electrolytes.
Some medications, such as diuretics, may reduce your body’s level of electrolytes. Some antibiotics will bind sodium, and other drugs may lower absorption of sodium or other nutrients. Talk with your doctor about how your prescription medications may affect your sodium, potassium, and chloride levels. Electrolyte imbalances and related nutritional disorders can be detected by measuring mineral levels in the blood or urine.