What Are Electrolytes?

What Are Electrolytes?
Electrolytes are a critical part of maintaining proper hydration, making it important to understand how and why they work matters in a healthy lifestyle strategy. Water is essential for keeping your body functioning, but it's not enough by itself. That is why so many professional athletes turn to electrolyte water and electrolyte drink mix. But what are electrolytes exactly, and how can you manage them?

What Are Electrolytes?

Electrolytes are essential minerals necessary to maintain body functions, and contain a natural electric charge when mixed in water. Electrolytes play a critical role in nerve and muscle functions, and that balance helps keep you hydrated. In addition, the body needs the correct electrolytes to keep cells functioning properly.

What Do Electrolytes Do?

Electrolytes hold a positive or negative charge, and these charges help muscles contract and balance fluids in and outside of cells. An example of this is sodium chloride or salt. Sodium has a positive charge and chlorine a negative one. When in fluid, the sodium and chloride particles split, helping your body maintain a balance that transports chemicals in and out of cells.

Are Electrolytes Good for You?

Yes, absolutely! Electrolytes are responsible for distributing fluid throughout the body. They are necessary for proper muscle function, including your heart, which is a muscle. They also regulate blood pressure, maintain body pH, and control fluid balance. Since you lose electrolytes through sweat when you exercise, replacing them helps your body recover and stay hydrated.

What Are the Key Electrolyte Components?

There are a number of electrolytes necessary for good body functioning and you can break these types of electrolytes down into positive and negative charges.

Positive Charge Electrolytes

  • Sodium: Which helps distribute fluid and nutrients to cells.
  • Magnesium: Allows those cells to turn nutrients absorbed into energy.
  • Potassium: Works with sodium to create balance. When sodium enters a cell, the same amount of potassium leaves it. This is how cells control the transfer of these critical electrolytes. The body needs potassium to maintain heart and muscle function, but too much can cause problems. Sodium will enter cells to reduce the amount of potassium. When the cell needs more potassium, sodium leaves to force the exchange.
  • Calcium: Helps keep bones and teeth strong. It also plays a role in controlling muscles and managing nerve signals that help maintain heart rhythm.

Negative Charge Electrolytes

  • Chloride: A negative electrolyte that helps cells maintain a proper fluid balance and a natural pH level.
  • Phosphate: Helps move chemicals in and out of the cells and plays a crucial role in DNA make-up.
  • Bicarbonate: The body makes some bicarbonate on its own by recycling carbon dioxide. That helps to manage blood pH levels.

How Do We Get Electrolytes?

The ideal way to replenish electrolytes is through a well-balanced diet. Foods with electrolytes include kale, spinach, avocados, and broccoli. You can also get electrolytes from beans, soybeans, and nuts. Meats that contain electrolytes include fish, chicken, and veal. It is also readily available in certain fruits like berries, oranges, watermelon, and some dairy products such as yogurt, milk, and buttermilk. When people think of electrolytes, they may also think of electrolyte powder mixes like UCAN Hydrate. UCAN offers flavored electrolytes you mix with water to refuel your body. UCAN Hydrate has double the magnesium than other popular electrolyte powders, making Hydrate electrolyte replacement drink mix the ultimate way to optimize dehydration recovery. When your body loses these critical electrolytes through sweat and urine, adding UCAN Hydrate to your water gives you an easy way to replenish them and prevent dehydration. Symptoms of low electrolytes and dehydration include:
  • Overheating
  • Headache
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle cramping and / or weakness
  • Abnormal or fast heart rate
  • Dizziness
  • Brain swelling
  • Shock
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Lethargy
To prevent low electrolyte or an electrolyte imbalance, make sure you drink plenty of water during physical activity, and eat a balanced diet in electrolyte-rich foods listed above.

The Role of Electrolytes in Preventing Dehydration

The body loses electrolytes through natural processes like sweating, urination, and even digestion. These electrolytes are essential to maintaining fluid balance. They also play a role in getting you to drink more water. For instance, sodium triggers thirst, which stimulates you to drink water to quench it. These are all functions that rely heavily on electrolytes to work correctly. Electrolytes are what direct fluids to the areas of the body where you most need them, too. Dehydration leads to muscle cramps, dizziness, dry mouth, and difficulty urinating. Dehydration can lead to low electrolyte symptoms and electrolyte drinks like UCAN Hydrate can restore that balance.