By David String, Staff Member
Summer is the time to be hydrated. It’s humid and sticky and if you’re not drinking water frequently the sun will suck the energy out of you like a heat-powered vacuum. Which is why it’s important to stay hydrated; we want to be at peak performance, especially during all of our summer activities. But how do we actually do this? We might be aware we need to stay hydrated through blistering summers, but most of us assume that drinking water is the only way to do it. This is not the case. Nowadays, drinks that are geared toward hydration have an extra component than just water: they have electrolytes. Electrolytes are the element to hydration that is often missed. Which is a shame, because they are essential to the body performing with optimal efficiency. But what exactly are electrolytes, and why do we need them?
Electrolytes are minerals that when dissolved into water create electrically charged ions that give energy to cells, muscles, and nerves. In other words, when we ingest these minerals, they carry an electrical charge through the fluids in our bodies and enable the function of our nerves and muscles, balance pH levels, and help regulate tissues (1). The reason electrolytes and hydration go hand-in-hand is because electrolytes are found within fluid, thus come out in our sweat, urine, blood, and fecal matter (2). That’s why sport drinks and electrolytes go well together; when we’re exerting ourselves through exercise we flush out the electrolytes in our bodies, which in turn makes us dehydrated.
Let’s state this in a memorable way: Wires need electricity to fire. The nervous system is a super-highway constructed of wires and conducted by electrical impulses. So, electrolytes – which carry electrical charges – “zap” nerves into action. They are then able to ride the electric super-highway and deliver messages with lightning speed. Without electrolytes, the highway of our nervous system gets put under-construction. And nobody likes construction on the highway.
Since almost three-fourths of your body is fluid, there needs to be forces at work that can balance the fluid between cells, tissues, organs, and blood vessels. Electrolytes are great at balancing. They make sure that fluid inside and outside of the cell is balanced; they help carry nutrients into the cell and they help carry waste products out of the cell. And it makes sense that electrolytes go hand-in-hand with fluid, because electrolytes are found in the form of salts. That is why some of the most common forms of electrolytes come from the minerals found in foods and drinks. Potassium, sodium, magnesium, and calcium are all electrolytes (3). This means that ingesting foods and drinks that are high in mineral content can increase the number of electrolytes in your system.
Now that we know that electrolytes are found in foods and drinks, we can adjust the kind of sustenance we are ingesting, in order to increase our daily electrolyte intake. Food is one the best sources of electrolytes. According to the USDA Food Composition Database, some of the foods that are most packed with electrolytes are leafy greens, yogurts, certain vegetables (e.g. celery, mushrooms, dill pickles), cheeses, and fish (4). You can figure this out by looking through the index of foods and analyzing the nutrients to see how much of each mineral is in the food you might be curious about. For example, a food item that is chock-full of electrolytes is coconut water. The brand “Harmless Harvest,” one of our most popular coconut waters, carries about 590mg of potassium and 140 mg of phosphorus per every 9 FL OZ bottle, according to the database. The USDA Food Composition Database will display all mineral content that you might be interested in. Here’s the link: https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/
The beautiful thing about electrolytes is that you can obtain them from a plethora of different sources. You can get them from a variety of foods, and like stated above, you can get them from a number of drinks including coconut water and sport drinks. Recharge – a brand of sport drink that we carry –is similar to Gatorade, only better: it’s filled with electrolytes, but it doesn’t include all the unnecessary heaps of sugar and artificial colors. You can even get electrolytes from supplements.
Elete is an ionically-charged electrolyte water that is derived from the Great Salt Lake in Utah and is packed with the four most common electrolytes (magnesium, potassium, sodium, and chloride). What makes this supplement so special is that you can add as much as you want to your water, and it’s already in its ionic form, which means it’s readily available for your body to use. Not only that, but it is virtually tasteless and carries nothing else other than the minerals (5).
Anderson’s Sea MD Concentrated Mineral Drops is another exceptional low-sodium choice. Also from Utah’s Great Salt Lake, it contains the full spectrum of all the naturally occurring stable elements in at least trace amounts. A few drops added to your water or food not only enhances the flavor, but gets you re-mineralized quickly. If you’re interested, you can pick it up in our Wellness aisle alongside our other outstanding mineral supplements.
Now that you’re well-informed on electrolytes, you never have an excuse to be dehydrated!
Elete Electrolyte (2018). Elete™ – The Electrolyte Concentrate | The choice of Champions. [online] Available at: https://eletewater.co.uk/
Fluid and Electrolyte Balance. (2018, April 17). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/fluidelectrolytebalance.html
Felman, A. (2017, November 20). Electrolytes: Uses, imbalance, and supplementation. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/153188.php
University of Rochester Medical Center (n.d.) Electrolytes. Retrieved from https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=167&contentid=electrolytes
USDA. (2018). USDA Food Composition Databases. Retrieved from https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/