Have you ever wondered what are the electrolytes found in drinks?
We all know that they are important for hydration, especially in athletes, but why? Are not they just sales?
Your body is a highway of carefully balanced complex cells, tissues, and fluids that, almost every second, direct an incomprehensible series of electrical impulses. This is only possible because cells, tissues, and fluids are managed and maintained in a homeostatic environment where they conduct enough electricity to carry the signals to their destinations.
The key to maintaining this driving highway lies with our friend: “the electrolyte”
What are electrolytes?
The electrolytes are salts exist in nature in the form of minerals. When the salts dissolve in liquid, their components tend to separate in the form of ions from their creating an electrically conductive solution.
There are several common electrolytes that are found in the body but each one fulfills a specific and important function, electrolytes are partly responsible for maintaining a fluid balance between the intracellular (inside the cell) and extracellular (outside the cell) environments. This balance is very important for processes such as nerve impulses, hydration, muscle function and pH level.
An electrolyte imbalance, either too much or too little, can be very harmful to your health. Muscle contraction, for example, requires calcium, potassium, and sodium; Deficiency can lead to muscle weakness or severe cramping. Excess sodium, on the other hand, can cause high blood pressure and significantly increase the risk of heart disease. Do not get too worried about maintaining a balance in your electrolytes, luckily, electrolyte levels are mostly determined by the consumption of food and water.
To maintain a proper balance is simply reduced to proper nutrition.
Let’s look at the seven main electrolytes found in the human body to get a better idea of what each one does and why they are important.
Electrolytes, their function, and benefits
1. Sodium (Na +)
An essential electrolyte for humans, sodium is responsible for controlling the total amount of water in the body. It is also important to regulate blood volume and maintain muscle and nerve function. Sodium is the main positively charged ion (cation) outside the cells of the body and is found mainly in the blood, plasma and lymphatic fluid. The minimum requirement for the body to function properly is 500 mg per day, with a recommended intake of 2.3 g.
An excess of sodium in body fluids is called hypernatremia and it usually occurs because there is too little water in the body – this is called dehydration.
2. Chloride (Cl-)
The main ion of negative charge (anion); Chloride is found primarily in the extracellular fluid and works closely with sodium to maintain the balance and pressure of the various fluid compartments of the body (blood, within cells, and fluid between cells). It is also vital for the maintenance of adequate acidity in the body and passively balance the positive ions of blood, tissues, and organs.
Like sodium, chloride is obtained through salt in the diet.
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3. Potassium (K +)
Potassium is the main cation inside the cells and is of great importance for the regulation of heartbeats and muscle function. It forms the other half of the electrical pump that keeps electrolytes in balance and allows conductivity between cells, also making potassium a critical part of the neuronal transmission.
Meat, milk, fruits, and vegetables are usually a good source of potassium, but most adults still do not have enough in their diets. The balance between potassium and sodium is very important to maintain our health, but often bodybuilders forget to eat natural fruits and vegetables full of potassium in favor of processed foods loaded with sodium (fast food). The worst is that the imbalance of potassium and sodium can increase the risk of hypertension, heart disease, and even stroke.
4. Magnesium (Mg + +)
The magnesium may be the most underrated mineral in your nutritional arsenal. Not only is it necessary for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body, but it also plays an important role in the synthesis of DNA and RNA, essential for every cell of every known living organism. The fourth most common mineral in the human body, magnesium helps maintain normal function of the nerves and muscles, stimulates the immune system, keeps the heart rate stable, stabilizes blood sugar, and promotes bone formation and teeth. Nuts, spices, green leafy vegetables, coffee, and tea are generally good sources of this mineral.
5. Calcium (Ca + +)
You probably already know that calcium is necessary for the formation of bones and teeth, but what you do not know is that it is also essential for the transmission of nerve impulses, blood coagulation, and muscle contraction. Being the most abundant mineral in the body, about 99% of all calcium is found in the structure of the skeleton, but your body also needs a balance in the blood and other cells (especially muscle cells). If there is not enough calcium in the blood, it is taken from the bones to supply the deficiency, if left unchecked; this lack of calcium can eventually lead to Osteoporosis.
The recommended intake of calcium is 1000 to 1500 mg per day to maintain adequate levels in the bloodstream and prevent weakening of bones
6. Phosphate (HPO4-)
Second, to calcium, phosphorus remains the most abundant mineral in the body, 85% of which is found in bones as phosphate. Phosphate anion works closely with calcium to strengthen bones and teeth, but it is also essential for the production of energy within cells, necessary for the growth and repair of tissues, and is a fundamental building block for the tissues. cell membranes and DNA.
7. Bicarbonate (HCO3-)
When acids accumulate through metabolic processes or the production of lactic acid in the muscles, the kidneys release bicarbonate (an alkaline solution) in your system to counteract the increase in acidity. When your body stabilizes, the kidneys will decrease the amount of bicarbonate to increase acidity. Without this system, rapid changes in pH balance can cause serious problems in the body such as damaging sensitive tissue around the central nervous system. This bicarbonate process is one of the biggest reasons why our body can maintain homeostasis and function properly.
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Fortunately, now that you know exactly what electrolytes are and how they should be balanced, the solution is simple – “eat a healthy and natural diet”