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Why Do I Need Electrolytes?

Updated: Dec 21, 2022

Recently a colleague mentioned that he wrote down every question he received from his patients during visits because he knows they are not the only one with those same questions. So, following in his footsteps here is one that we hear a lot in our office.

Why electrolytes?

Hydration is key in helping us stay healthy and active, but it is just one tool and as we know we can’t fix everything with just a hammer.

Let’s take a quick look at the 7 different types of electrolytes and their functions:

1. Sodium- Regulates total water concentration in the body and is essential in creating electrical signals for our cells to communicate.

2. Potassium- Regulates our heart and is essential to the nervous system.

3. Chloride- Maintains fluid balance.

4. Calcium- Contributes to bone health, muscle contraction and nerve transmissions.

5. Magnesium- Essential in over 300 reactions in the body as well as supporting the heart, nervous system and converting blood sugar to energy.

6. Bicarbonate- Maintains normal pH in the body.

7. Phosphate- Helps deposit calcium into bones and maintains normal pH in the body.

See why they are essential to our health?

Electrolyte imbalances have been linked to depression and other neuropsychiatric manifestations (Webb, 1981). These same imbalances have been found in post-operative deaths of patients with traumatic brain injury as well (Pin-On P, 2018).

Magnesium is the 4 th most abundant mineral in the body and deficiencies have been seen in Alzeimer’s, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, stroke, migraine headaches and ADHD (Grober, 2015).

According to the American Diabetes Association diabetes effects over 10% of our population and 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed every year. Patients with uncontrolled diabetes were found to have decreased serum sodium levels and an increase in chloride levels (Khan, 2019).

Electrolytes are also crucial for helping our bodies fight infections. Patients fighting malaria were found to have significantly lower levels of electrolytes that was believed to be linked specifically to plasmodium infections from insects (Rani, 2015).

Many believe that muscles cramps are caused by severe dehydration and this is partially true. Hydration is key to preventing cramps but when our muscles start to cramp, studies have shown that water alone is not the best treatment. Athletes that treat cramps with electrolytes were found to have a more rapid decrease in their symptoms and athletes that treated cramps with just water were found to have experienced more cramps (Lau, 2019).

Electrolytes… we need them! What else is there to say?

As with any supplement always consult a health care professional before starting them.

Yours in health,

Jeric Toney, D.C.


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