Electrolytes – The Tiny Spark Your Body Needs
It’s fairly common knowledge that the human body is made up mostly of water (about 60%). Every single cell in our body uses water to function. And in order to maintain homeostasis, we need to keep our body hydrated – that’s why we drink at least 8 glasses of water every day. But sometimes, like during the hottest time of the year, staying hydrated with just water is not enough.
July and August are the hottest months of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. And although the good Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts lower temperatures than usual for July, it’s still turning out to be a scorching hot summer in a lot of areas. You might plan to avoid the hot temperatures by staying indoors with the cool AC, but an unexpected blackout could cause you to experience the heatwave longer than you’re used to. So, it’s important to be prepared – what do you know about electrolytes?
What are electrolytes?
The body is made up of and requires many kinds of minerals to perform basic processes. Some of these minerals are more necessary than others and are involved in multiple body functions. Electrolytes are such minerals.
What sets them apart from other minerals is the small electric conduit they create when they dissolve in water. Several of the body’s automatic processes require electrical pulses to function – electrolytes provide that spark.
There are seven primary electrolytes: Bicarbonate, Calcium, Chloride, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, and Sodium.
Why are they important?
Just like drinking 8 cups of water a day helps keep your body hydrated to operate properly, consuming drinks and foods with electrolytes helps too. If you’re going to be exercising longer than an hour, sweating profusely, exposed to prolonged periods of heat, or experiencing vomiting/diarrhea, you’ll be losing electrolytes and your first line of defense should be replacing them.
Electrolytes are essential for several bodily functions, and each of them has their own role. For instance, bicarbonate helps maintain normal pH levels in the blood and other body fluids, while potassium helps cells and muscles function, and regulates your heart rate.
Other functions electrolytes are involved in include controlling your fluid balance (ie. keeping you hydrated), regulating your blood pressure, minimizing cramping, and helping your muscles contract – including your heart. Staying hydrated and maintaining electrolyte levels also helps your body stay cool, which can prevent heat exhaustion and strokes. Good electrolyte balance also results in better sleep and better stress response.
How do I replenish my electrolytes?
Luckily, electrolytes aren’t hard to come by. You may recognize some of their names as the chemical components of common baking ingredients – sodium bicarbonate (aka baking soda) and sodium chloride (table salt). But don’t just ingest these on their own (yuck!).
Perhaps the way to get electrolytes is through tap water. On average, a quart (4 cups) of tap water contains 2–3% RDI for sodium, calcium, and magnesium. However, tap water also contains impurities missed by municipal purification systems.
Sports drinks are also good sources of electrolytes; most contain decent doses of sodium and potassium. However, they also have loads of sugar – a 20 oz bottle of Gatorade contains 34 g of sugar – or artificial sweeteners. While some athletes might actually want all those carbs, they’re certainly not ideal for children or sedentary adults, and can aggravate vomiting or diarrhea. If you really want a sports drink, best practice is to dilute it: 1 part water, 1 part sports drink.
Several foods are potent sources of electrolytes. One of the best is spinach. One cup (180 g) of cooked spinach contains 126mg (5% DV) of sodium, 839mg (18% DV) of potassium, 157mg (37% DV) of magnesium, 245mg (19% DV) of calcium, and 101mg (8% DV) of phosphorus.
Non-fat yogurt is another well-rounded source. One cup (245 g) contains 189mg (8% DV) of sodium, 625mg (13% DV) of potassium, 47mg (11% DV) of magnesium, 488mg (38% DV) of calcium, and 385mg (31% DV) of phosphorus.
Other good sources include:
- Milk, cheese, and other dairy products – high in calcium, and usually contain magnesium, sodium, and phosphorus.
- Kale, collards, and other leafy greens – high in magnesium and calcium, and generally good sources of potassium.
- Potatoes – high in magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.
- Lentils – a good source of magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus.
- Pickle juice – high in sodium and chloride. (And a popular trend among athletes.)
- Sunflower seeds and other nuts/seeds – high in magnesium and may contain phosphorus.
- Several other fruits and vegetables, like avocados, squash, apricots, bananas, etc., are strong sources of potassium.
And lastly, we’d love to share our fun, refreshing lemonade recipe with you. This Homemade Lemonade Electrolyte Drink is low calorie and low carb, and contains sodium, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. It’s a perfect blend of the classic lemonade drink with our favorite Ionic-Fizz™ Calcium Plus™. If you want extra Vitamin D and Vitamin K2, use Ionic-Fizz™ Super D-K Calcium Plus™.
Whatever your choice of electrolyte replacement may be, be sure to keep your electrolytes stocked up during these sweltering hot months, and the rest of the year! They’re of supreme importance to every aspect of health.
Ingredients - Makes 5 Servings
1-1/2 cups Coconut Water
3 cups Cold Water
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tsp Cream of Tartar
1/8 tsp Himalayan Pink Salt
2 scoops Ionic-Fizz™ Calcium Plus™
- Place everything in a jug and stir until well combined and no crystals appear on the bottom.
- Add some ice cubes if needed and enjoy!
- Store in refrigerator until ready to use. Will last up to four days.
Nutritional breakdown (per cup)
Net Carbs: 3 g
Sodium: 82 mg (3% DV)
Magnesium: 132 mg (31% DV)
Calcium: 10.5 mg (1% DV)
Potassium: 302 mg (6% DV)
 Patterson, Kristine, Pamela Pehrsson, Charles Perry. “The mineral content of tap water in United States households.” Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, Volume 31, Issue 1, August 2013, Pages 46-50.