You might have noticed that working out or sweating excessively may leave you feeling tired and dehydrated even when you drink plenty of water. This is because sweat isn’t just made of water, it’s also full of electrolytes like sodium. And since plain water doesn’t actually contain electrolytes, you have to replenish your stock with certain juices, foods or supplements.
What Are Electrolytes?
According to Healthline, electrolytes are acids, bases or salts that take on a positive or negative charge when they dissolve in your body fluids (1).
Sodium is the major positive ion in fluid outside your cells. It controls body fluids, blood pressure, muscle and nerve function and helps balance other electrolytes.
Chloride, one of the main minerals in table salt balances the pH in your blood, regulates fluids and is essential to digestion.
Potassium is essential to cardiovascular health, plays a role in nerve transmission, promotes bone health and is necessary for muscle contraction, including heartbeat. Potassium imbalance can lead to potential fatal arrhythmia
Magnesium is necessary for DNA and RNA production, contributes to nerve and muscle function, regulates heart rythym, regulates blood sugar levels and boosts immune function
Calcium is the most important mineral for tooth and bone density. Surprisingly, it also plays a role in nerve impulses, muscle movement and blood clotting
Electrolytes play a role in chemical exchanges, conduct electricity and move electrical charges or signals throughout your body. And so, electrolytes are essential to proper nerve function.
They’re also directly linked to water balance. For example, when your sodium levels get too high, your body signals thirst and your kidneys expel less liquid to direct water back into your blood to dilute the sodium. On the other hand, when sodium levels get too low, your kidneys excrete more water (4).