The Role of Electrolytes in Your Body – (See Homemade Recipe Below)

Sodium, calcium, chloride, magnesium and potassium are the most common electrolytes in the human body. They’re essential for many heart, nerve and muscle functions. They also play an important role in keeping fluid levels normal in different body compartments.

Athletes and trainers know that the body loses electrolytes (salt) through sweat and that it’s important to replace it. That’s why many athletes drink sports drinks (basically electrolyte dense liquids) that contain salts before, during and after exercise to minimize things like muscle cramps that are associated with electrolyte imbalance.

But electrolytes are important not only for athletes. The human body needs various kinds of salts to be healthy and to function normally, and it has to maintain them at certain levels in different body compartments. Serious salt imbalances, like those that occur with dehydration, may lead to heart and nervous system problems that, unless they are rapidly resolved, can result in a medical emergency.

Electrolyte Imbalances

The most common electrolyte imbalances are in sodium and potassium. Electrolyte imbalances are referred to with the prefixes “hypo” (low) and “hyper” (high), combined with the scientific name of the electrolyte.
  • Hyponatremia (low sodium), the most common electrolyte imbalance, is a symptom of kidney disease. It can be caused by other disorders, some medications or when a person drinks too much water without consuming enough salt — especially during hot weather, when more sweating occurs. The first symptoms are headache, fatigue, weakness and nausea. More severe cases can result in confusion, seizure, coma and death. Low sodium is treated by giving sodium and water intravenously.
  • Hypernatremia (high sodium) can be caused by excessive fluid loss, diabetes, diarrhea, excessive vomiting and some medications. Thirst is typically the first symptom, and many of the other symptoms are the same as low sodium. Older hospitalized patients are particularly susceptible to hypernatremia. Treatment involves slowly replenishing water loss, usually over 48 hours, through drinking or intravenous administration.
  • Hypokalemia (low potassium) is most commonly caused by some diuretics, medicines that help rid the body of excess sodium and water. Other causes include diarrhea, dietary deficiency and excessive sweating. Symptoms include irregular heartbeat, muscle pain, general discomfort or irritability, weakness and paralysis. Treatment can include potassium supplements, foods rich in potassium, or intravenous potassium and water. People who experience hypokalemia because of a diuretic may be given another type of diuretic that doesn’t have potassium loss as a side effect.
  • Hyperkalemia (high potassium) is much more serious than hypokalemia. It’s usually caused by kidney failure or medications that reduce the amount of potassium excreted by the kidneys. High potassium can cause dangerous changes in the heart’s function — it can even cause the heart to stop. Other symptoms include tingling in the extremities, weakness and numbness. Treatment includes drugs that cause the body to eliminate potassium. In the case of severe or worsening hyperkalemia, treatment must be started immediately.

(Above Information is written by Jill Ferguson in an article titled Electrolyte 101 on the website How Stuff Works)

Store-bought electrolyte drinks, such as Gatorade and Pedialyte, are full of artificial flavors and food coloring.  Try this homemade recipe:

2 Cups of filtered water

1/2 to 1 cup Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice

1/2 Cup Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice

1/8 tsp. of Sea Salt

2-4 Tablespoons of raw honey (Of Course Maxwell Honey is the best for this)

Agitate in a jar by shaking or blend together in a blender. Great for the athlete or for illness related dehydration.

When you, your family, and your friends are healthy….you are happier.  To find out more about the powerful and affordable benefits of the whole health Chiropractic approach, contact Dr. Kimberly Maxwell at (406) 585-7000.  Abundant Health Family Chiropractic in Bozeman is THE go-to resource for the health and well being of your entire family, starting with prenatal care.