If you didn’t already know, “science geek” is my middle name. You won’t find me in a lab (other than the kitchen) but I have a keen interest in and affinity for the subject, especially as it relates to food and how the human body utilizes anything edible for form and function.
Before I dive into electrolytes, here is a little back-story. Ions are atoms (the basic unit of matter) or molecules (multiple atoms) that have a positive or negative charge (think the positive and negative ends of batteries). And electrolytes—essentially minerals in your blood and other bodily fluids—are ions.
So what’s the big stink about these molecules anyway? According to MedlinePlus, a National Institutes of Health website that gives you fact-based information about diseases, conditions, and wellness issues in language you can understand, electrolytes effect the amount of water in your body, the acidity of your blood (pH), your muscle function, and other important processes. As a result, keeping your electrolytes in check is no joke.
You lose electrolytes when you sweat so replacing them by drinking fluids containing these ions is a must (water alone does not have electrolytes). Here’s the low down on these celebrity minerals and why they are central to overall health:
Calcium is one of the most important minerals for the human body. It offers a variety of functions including:
- Building strong bones and teeth
- Clotting blood
- Sending and receiving nerve signals
- Squeezing and relaxing muscles
- Releasing hormones and other chemicals
- Keeping a normal heartbeat
Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body to support the following functions:
- Maintain normal nerve and muscle function
- Support a healthy immune system
- Keep the heartbeat steady
- Help bones remain strong
- Help regulate blood glucose levels
- Aids in the production of energy and protein
In addition, there is ongoing research into the role of magnesium in preventing and managing disorders such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.
Phosphorous is present in every cell and makes up about 1% of a person’s body weight. It is critical to:
- Form bones and teeth
- How the body uses carbohydrates and fats
- To help the body to make protein for the growth, maintenance, and repair of cells and tissues
- To help the body make ATP, a molecule the body uses to store energy
In addition, phosphorus works with the B vitamins to help maintain:
- Kidney function
- Muscle contractions
- Normal heartbeat
- Nerve signaling
Potassium is needed by your body to:
- Build proteins
- Break down and use carbohydrates
- Build muscle
- Maintain normal body growth
- Control the electrical activity of the heart
- Control the acid-base balance
Sodium, most commonly known as a component of salt, is used to control blood pressure and blood volume. Sodium is also essential for your muscles and nerves to work properly.
If you live that active lifestyle, replenishing electrolytes is critical. Rather than doing it with mainstream sports beverages that deliver food dye, tons of sugar (even artificial sweeteners) and most likely GMO ingredients with the necessary “electric” molecules, I suggest that you opt into something far more health supportive like potassium-rich coconut water, Emergen-C electrolyte packs or the new Titan Tea (that I was fortunate enough to help develop). There are always better alternatives to mainstream brands! And I’ve made it super easy for you to know what they are in my upcoming book. Consume what you love but I ask that you choose the healthier options.