Electrolytes are ions or mineral salts contained in body fluids to help the body function properly and keep hydrated.
Whenever sweating, the body loses electrolytes that make a person feel more thirsty. Electrolytes are generally contained in food and water which are consumed daily. Salt from food and beverages are dissolved in the body and forwarded to various fluids such as blood, urine, as well as the cellular fluid.
Here are some of the functions of electrolytes in the human body:
- They are especially present in the form of mineral salt ions such as sodium ions, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfate, phosphate and chloride.
Electrolytes works to restore and maintain proper hydration levels throughout the body.
- Each mineral salt deficiency can lead to health problems such as, lethargy, depression, weakness, coma, and heart problems.
- The mineral salt ions, which have the ability to maintain osmotic pressure, also helps muscle contraction and producing and distributing the electrical signals from the brain to the cell and vice versa.
This explains why muscle cramps often appear after strenuous physical activity. On dehydration, the possibility of an electrical signal cannot reach the body parts and muscles cannot relax triggering seizures.
- Kidney separating the electrolytes from the blood and regulate the level of electrolytes in the body.
So, when the electrolyte levels go down, someone will be more frequent urination to remove excess water from the body and balance the electrolyte level. Conversely, if the body excess of electrolyte, a person will feel more thirsty than usual in order to get more water bodies.
- Too much loss of electrolytes causes severe dehydration and potentially affects the heart and central nervous system. Loss of electrolyte will also cause diarrhea and even hyponatremia kidney failure in extreme cases.
- Electrolytes work in the body at the cellular level, and if it is present in an amount lower than required, could affect all major systems and organs.
Electrolytes are also tasked with defending the body temperature remains stable and stays cool.
- However, excessive consumption of electrolytes can cause excessive water retention and leads to swelling of the muscle.
Water retention occurs when someone takes additional supplements or consumes too much salt to increase the levels of electrolytes in the body.
- When trying to replace lost of electrolytes by drinking plenty of water all at once, you are diluting the existing electrolyte concentration in the blood due to the intake of water is too high.
That’s because, more are encouraged to drink water gradually, instead of drinking it all at once in large quantities when you’re thirsty.
- Each level of electrolyte imbalance in the body can be fatal in a matter of hours, especially for those who already suffer from digestive problems.
- Adrenal hormones such as aldosterone and parathyroid will regulate electrolyte and maintain the chemical balance intracellular and extracellular.
Electrolyte levels can be checked with an electrolyte blood test panel.