By Elizabeth Foley
Hydration is vital to our health. In fact, your social media is probably flooded with stories about what celebrities put in their water and how much water you need to stay properly hydrated. If you are on a personal mission to stay hydrated, keeping your electrolytes balanced is the key to success. This is because hydration and electrolytes go hand in hand.
Electrolytes conduct electricity in our bodies when they are mixed with water. Muscle tissue and neurons use electrolytes' electrical currents to move through cellular fluid and regulate nerve and muscle function. This process also hydrates the body and helps rebuild damaged tissues.
How do you best tailor electrolyte supplements to hydration needs? Here is the information you need to determine when you should take an electrolyte supplement.
What are Electrolytes?
Common electrolytes found in the body include sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, chlorine, and phosphate. Electrolytes play a major role in maintaining healthy muscle tissue. You need electrolytes to regulate nerve and muscle function and hydrate your body. When you mix electrolytes with water, they help rebuild damaged tissue by moving throughout the body fluid and between cells. Our kidneys and hormones are tasked with electrolyte regulation.
Getting the right level of electrolytes in your blood is important. When electrolyte levels are high, your kidneys begin to filter them from the body, and hormones act to get you back in balance. If the concentration of electrolytes becomes higher than the body can regulate, you become dehydrated. On the other hand, low levels of electrolytes occur when you experience fluid loss due to sweat, vomit, diarrhea, and some medications and health conditions. Your body cannot function properly when your electrolytes become dangerously low and vital functions such as blood clotting, muscle contractions, acid balance, and fluid regulation are affected. You must then replace electrolytes and rehydrate to get back to a healthy level.
Electrolyte Imbalance and Muscle Function
Electrolytes are needed for muscle health. Have you ever gotten a muscle cramp? This was most likely due to an electrolyte imbalance. The calcium in electrolytes allows muscle fibers to slide and move as your muscle tissue shortens and contracts. After muscles are done contracting for movement, electrolytes are needed for muscle relaxation. The magnesium in electrolytes allows your muscle fibers to slide outwards into their relaxed neutral position. Research shows that electrolyte imbalance is the main culprit of muscle cramps, and electrolyte supplements will help prevent muscle cramping (1).
Electrolyte Imbalance and Proper Hydration
Electrolytes cannot do their job without the right amount of water in each cell of the body. We know that electrolytes are important because they support fluid balance through osmosis (2). What is osmosis? It is the process that prevents your cells from becoming too full that they burst or so dehydrated that they shrivel up and die. In the osmosis process, water moves through the wall of the cell membrane to maintain the ideal balance.
When should you take an electrolyte supplement? Here are three situations where electrolyte supplements can be beneficial.
Electrolyte Supplements for Migraines
Migraines can last for several days with challenging and painful symptoms. If you or a loved one suffers from migraines, then you should be aware of the Stanton Migraine Protocol. According to the Protocol, migraines are caused by electrolyte imbalance as a result of an overstimulated brain. Maintaining balanced electrolytes is key to managing migraines. 40,000 and counting migraineurs follow this protocol to prevent migraines without the use of medicines.
Electrolyte Supplements for Workouts
You may have noticed that many athletes and fitness enthusiasts take electrolytes before they exercise. This is because electrolytes fuel you before and after a workout. Health By Principle recommends taking an electrolyte supplement 30 minutes prior to working out for added hydration and a boost in your endurance.
Electrolyte Supplements for a Hangover
The day after you’ve overindulged in alcohol, you desperately seek relief from that dreaded hangover. One tactic you may not have considered is electrolytes to cure a hangover. Drinking is shown to deplete your body’s hydration. Prior to consuming alcohol, you can decrease the severity of a hangover by staying hydrated and making sure your electrolytes are balanced. Health By Principle customers have shared that taking our electrolyte supplements before and during a night of drinking can completely eliminate a nasty hangover. Proper rehydration isn’t complete without replenishing your electrolytes.
Learn More About Electrolytes
Want to learn more about electrolyte supplements? Check out the science behind electrolyte homeostasis and find out what makes it so vital to our health.
1. Sweeney, L. H. (2018, February 1). Muscle Contraction. PubMed. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29419405/
2. Allison, S. (2004). Fluid, electrolytes and nutrition. PubMed. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15656483/
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