A-Z: Electrolytes

Published on: 07/13/2015

Electrolytes

What are electrolytes?
Electrolytes are a group of minerals found in bodily fluids (blood, cells, mucus and more). Electrolytes are found as ions, or charged molecules. The most abundant bodily electrolytes are sodium (Na+), potassium (K+), and chloride (Cl-).

Why are electrolytes important?
Electrolytes play an important role in most cell functions including, muscle contraction, neuron signalling, and body acid/base (pH) balance (1). In the hot summer months, it is especially important to remain hydrated and consuming fruits and vegetables containing potassium and other electrolytes is a great way to stay hydrated.


Foods containing electrolytes?
Potassium (2):

  • green leafy vegetables
  • grapes
  • blackberries
  • carrots
  • potatoes (with skin)
  • citrus 

Sodium & Chloride:
Table salt contains both sodium (~40%) and chloride (~60%). Most Americans do not have difficulties consuming adequate amounts of each of these.

A word about sodium
Most Americans consume more sodium than the body needs 3,100mg/day compared to the 2,300mg/day or 1,500mg/day recommendations based on health status (3). Processed foods including ready-to-eat meals, frozen entrees, and deli meats tend to be higher in sodium. 

The main recommendations for electrolytes are to consume them from foods. If you are concerned with your electrolyte needs or your hydration status, please consult your primary healthcare provider.


References
1. Dugdale DC. Electrolytes. Medline Plus. 2013.
2. Potassium. Medline Plus. 2015
3. Sodium: How to tame your salt habit. Mayo Clinic. 2013.

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