Electrolytes—Drink In the Hydrating Benefits

Athletes often chug sports drinks over water for one big reason—electrolytes. You’ve most likely heard of them and know they’re good for you. But have you ever wondered what an electrolyte is and exactly how they benefit your body?


Take a look below at the science of electrolytes and discover how you can use them to make your life healthier and more active.


What Are Electrolytes?

Electrolytes are minerals capable of conducting an electric charge when dissolved in water. Since your body relies on a network of millions of these tiny electric charges, electrolytes are essential for many key functions.


The most common electrolytes the human body uses include:

  • Sodium
  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Bicarbonate
  • Phosphate


Your body and mind are controlled by your nervous system—a network of nerves centralized in the brain that connects to your spine and eventually reaches out to every muscle. When you move a finger, toe, or even blink, your brain sends a near-instantaneous electrical signal for those muscles to contract and move. These signals transmit properly when the proper balance of electrolytes are distributed throughout your body.


Electrolytes are also used by your cells as a way to balance your body’s overall pH level and move water and nutrients in and out of them as needed.


How Electrolytes Benefit You

These essential minerals and their charge-carrying abilities are necessary for your body to function normally. They also help optimize several other important body systems to benefit your health in these ways:

  • Enable the transmission of nerve signals to your heart, muscles, and other nerve cells
  • Regulate the fluid levels in your blood and cells to keep you hydrated
  • Balance the pH of your blood so it stays in the normal, healthy range
  • Helps blood to clot normally and build new tissue


Sodium is an especially important electrolyte when it comes to neurological health and function. It also regulates the amount of water in your body and the transmission of water and minerals into and out of your individual cells.


Potassium is essential for your cells to function normally. This includes the regulation of your own heartbeat and the contraction of other important muscles and organs.


Chloride typically flows through your blood and surrounds the outside of your cells. It plays a critical role of balancing and regulating pH and fluid levels.


Magnesium also contributes to nerve and muscle functions like regular heart rhythms. It also controls blood sugar levels and can help boost immune function.


Too Much or Too Little: Balancing Electrolytes

Consuming too much or too little of one or more electrolytes can create an imbalance in your body. A significant electrolyte imbalance can cause a variety of symptoms, from stomach pain, vomiting, and fatigue to muscle spasms, changes in blood pressure, and nervous system disorders.


Like all other nutrients, electrolytes are a finite resource that need to be replenished. Most often your body loses electrolytes through sweat—its attempt to remove water to cool itself down. A hot day, strenuous workout, or nervousness can trigger sweat. But water isn’t the only thing your body sweats out. Electrolytes in your blood escape with the water, too.


It’s important to keep your electrolytes within the normal range by replenishing them often. Here are some tips to help you achieve a healthy balance:


  • Eat Healthy

The best way to make sure your body has all the minerals and vitamins it needs is to eat healthy, whole foods. Avoid processed foods that are high in sodium, sugar, and unhealthy fats.


  • Consume Less Sodium

Many foods today contain excessive amounts of salt. It’s true your body needs sodium, but most people consume more than they really need. Try to avoid high-sodium foods and add less salt when cooking at home.


  • Drink the Right Amount of Water

It’s called the “building block of life” for a reason. Make sure to keep yourself well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Most medical institutions recommend 9-11 cups (a little over two liters) of fluid a day for women and 13-15 cups (about 3 liters) of fluid each day for men.


  • Replenish While Exercising

Have an electrolyte-rich sports drink on hand during your workout to help you replenish key minerals. Coconut water is also rich in electrolytes. Whatever drink you choose, just be wary of high-sugar options.


Now you know electrolytes aren’t just for athletes looking to boost their performance. They’re essential for everyone. Do your body the most good by staying hydrated and keeping your electrolytes balanced. Go ahead, chug some down today.



Born and raised in Utah, Taylor Pulver grew up fishing, camping, and hiking his way through the Wasatch Range. Now, he lives in Salt Lake City as a writer, gardener, and avid reader of fantasy and science fiction novels.





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