FITNESS and ELECTROLYTES
You hear the word electrolytes being tossed around in the fitness world. Do you know what it means and what it means in relationship to fitness?
WHAT ARE ELECTROLYTES?
Salts and minerals that can conduct electrical impulses in the body are called electrolytes. Common human electrolytes are:
- Sodium (Na+)
- Potassium (K+)
- Calcium (Ca2+)
- Magnesium (Mg2+)
- Chloride (Cl−)
- Hydrogen phosphate (HPO42−)
- Hydrogen carbonate (HCO3−)
WHY ARE ELECTROLYTES IMPORTANT?
Electrolytes control the fluid balance of the body and are important in muscle contraction, energy generation, and almost every major biochemical reaction in the body.
WHAT CAUSES ELECTROLYTE IMBALANCES?
The balance of electrolytes is constantly shifting due to fluctuating fluid levels in your body. When you sweat as a result of exercise, hot weather, or have an illness causing vomiting or diarrhea it may cause some electrolyte levels to be low.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF ELECTROLYTE IMBALANCE?
Electrolytes have many different roles within the body so an imbalance can cause noticeable changes in how you feel pretty quickly. Here is a list of some common symptoms of electrolyte imbalance. Be aware, these same symptoms can be caused by many things including just being human. Depending on the type of electrolyte imbalance you experience, a number of symptoms can occur including:
- Muscle aches, spasms, twitches and weakness
- Frequent headaches
- Feeling very thirsty
- Heart palpitations or irregular heartbeats
- Digestive issues like cramps, constipation or diarrhea
- Confusion and trouble concentrating
- Bone disorders
- Joint pain
- Blood pressure changes
- Changes in appetite or body weight
- Fatigue (including chronic fatigue syndrome)
- Numbness and pain in joints
- Dizziness, especially when standing up suddenly
WHAT CAN WE DO TO RESTORE ELECTROLYTE IMBALANCE?
A doctor can check your electrolyte balance through a simple blood test but unless your symptoms are severe you might first try eliminating processed foods and consuming these foods:
- Coconut water
- Bell peppers
- Citrus fruit
- Cultured dairy (kefir/yogurt)