From diet and nutrition to exercise and sleep, you’re probably already juggling many different elements of health and wellness. But even if you’ve mastered these domains and understand your body well, you may be missing one critical fact: we need electrolytes to thrive.
While you might think that electrolytes are only necessary for high-performing athletes and people living in hot-weather environments, think again. These are crucial components for the human body, just like fats, carbs, and protein. And, as you might imagine, the average American doesn’t maintain the proper levels of electrolytes, resulting in a number of possible health issues.
This article will break down the science behind electrolytes in a simple way, giving you the facts and figures you need to make the right choices with fluid and supplement consumption. We’ll cover the benefits of electrolytes, explain how they work, and offer some simple tips to keep you in the game. Let’s get started.
What are electrolytes?
Electrolytes are simpler than they might seem. They are essential minerals that support vital functions in the body, ensuring a healthy fluid balance, and replenishing the body after strenuous activity.
You’ve probably already heard of the main electrolytes before. They’re on the periodic table of the elements and they’ve been known for thousands of years. Sodium, calcium, magnesium, and potassium are some of the main electrolytes our bodies need to operate at their highest levels.
Even the simple combo of sodium chloride — yes, that’s salt — is thought to be a sufficient starting point for balancing your electrolyte levels. While this isn’t an excuse to indulge in salty chips and processed snacks, the point is that these simple ingredients have standalone health benefits that can’t be ignored.
The takeaway is this: electrolytes are simple compounds with big implications for your health and well-being. Make them a priority in your daily routine, and you’ll be rewarded in many ways.
How do electrolytes work in the body?
Electrolytes work in the body by saturating the cells with supportive minerals to regulate key bodily functions. These range from muscle function during intense exercise to brain function, nervous system regulation, and much more.
Think of your body as a big, complex battery. With so much circuity running through our system and performing various tasks, we need a strong, reliable electric charge to keep things moving along. Electrolytes offer pathways for these signals so that your body functions as it should.
As we dive into why electrolytes are so important, keep in mind that many of the negative effects of low electrolytes won’t register until your levels are depleted. With that said, always stay a step ahead and get enough electrolytes, long before you feel the need to rehydrate.
What are some benefits of electrolytes?
We’ve covered some of the science behind electrolytes and how they work in the body. Now it’s time to discuss the top practical benefits you can get from consistent electrolyte intake throughout the day.
1. Support immune health
The immune system is one of the more complex and energy-intensive aspects of the human body, so it makes sense that proper electrical signaling plays a role in its functionality.
From the production of white blood cells and adaptive antibodies to the lymphatic system and other defenses, the immune system needs “all hands on deck” when the body is under attack. With sufficient electrolyte intake, you can shore up your immune system properly so that it will kick into gear when you need it most.
Since electrolytic minerals carry an electric charge, they enhance cellular communication among these various nerves, cells, and enzymes. Electrolytes also maintain the acid-base (pH) balance so that your body can respond to threats from a stable foundation.
2. Support cognitive function
If your body is essentially a big battery with electrolytes supporting these signals, and the brain is at the center of it all. For better cognitive function, hydration is just a part of the story — you also need minerals to stay sharp and on point.
Just think about the last time you felt brain fog or sluggishness. You were probably experiencing a combination of dehydration and depleted electrolytes. With proper electrolyte levels, you’ll feel more invigorated, alert, and capable, whether you’re running a marathon or navigating an average day at work. In proper doses, electrolytes contribute to blood flow regulation, energy metabolism, and many more functions that the brain needs to fire on all cylinders.
3. Maintain muscle and bone health
Muscle and bone health might not sound critically important right now, but we don’t realize the critical nature of these things until they’re gone. To maintain muscle health, electrolyte balance is key, ensuring that muscles contract with the proper transmission of electrical signals in the cells.
Muscle relaxation is on the other end of the spectrum with regard to health and well-being. If you’ve ever dealt with muscle spasms and other oddities, you’ll know that they can interfere with your comfort and quality of life. Maintain electrolyte levels to ensure smooth and predictable muscle function, even if you aren’t a high-level competitor. Meanwhile, bone health is all about mineralization, and it’s no coincidence that calcium and phosphorous make a difference.
Keep your electrolytes up to support muscles and keep bones strong, especially as you reach middle age and beyond.
4. Support athletic performance
Athletic performance requires a mix of endurance, circulation, motor skills, and cognitive precision. Even a simple weight routine and yoga session requires coordination and strong electrical signaling, meaning that electrolytes play a crucial role.
Ever wonder why sports drinks are so popular among athletes? As they give it their all on the field, they need to rapidly restore electrolytes with electrolyte-enriched fluids and a hit of glucose for quick energy. While you might not need that extra sugar for your morning jog, those electrolytes can be the difference maker in your performance and recovery.
5. Support overall heart health
Your heart is a muscle like any other, only it’s far more complex and critical to your health. It still relies on electrolytes to maintain electrical activity, including sodium and potassium ions that move throughout the cell membranes. A healthy, consistent heart rate is governed by electrolytes, as are blood pressure and other aspects of circulation.
Vascular health also gets a boost from minerals like calcium, which plays a role in the contraction and relaxation of the body’s millions of blood vessels. When your system is replenished with electrolytes, your heart can keep doing its thing while reducing the risk of arrhythmias and other anomalies.
6. Provide energy support
While electrolytes don’t produce energy directly, minerals like magnesium are essential in producing ATP. This is the primary energy molecule in the body, and without balanced electrolytes, your ATP production may suffer. Additionally, transport mechanisms allow ATP to be utilized in our muscles and neurons, ensuring signals are sent and received rapidly.
Meanwhile, electrolytes support hormonal activities like secretion and action, which can influence the metabolism and energy utilization in the body. We might fuel up with proper nutrition, but only with electrolytes can we make the most of this energy and ensure our cells have all the components needed to function at their highest level.
How can you get electrolytes?
We’ve covered some of the main benefits of electrolytes, showing the diverse range of functions these minerals support and perform. The question now becomes: how can we get enough electrolytes in our daily routines in a healthy, sustainable way? Let’s look at some reliable electrolyte sources that won’t disrupt your diet and other health goals.
Fruit tends to be a great source of electrolytes, thanks to high concentrations of naturally occurring minerals and moderate amounts of glucose. However, watermelon stands out as one of the best sources of hydration and electrolytes in a compact, delicious format.
Watermelon is loaded with potassium, magnesium, and other minerals, plus it has more water content than your average fruit. Even better, sprinkle some sea salt on your watermelon for an extra punch of flavor and an additional electrolyte boost.
They don’t call coconut water “nature’s sports drink” for nothing. Coconut water is packed with essential vitamins and minerals, with relatively low sugar and a delicious flavor. You can dilute coconut water to reduce the sweetness and boost its hydrating effects, perfect for a post-workout drink.
Sea salt is the purest, natural form of sodium chloride that the earth provides, so why not be generous when seasoning your favorite dishes? You’ll find your meals will be more nourishing with a decent amount of added sea salt, and you can reap all the benefits of electrolytes we’ve discussed so far. You can even sprinkle sea salt into your water bottle for easy hydration on the go.
Need a well-rounded serving of electrolytes on-the-go? Our Broad Spectrum Hydrate Water Enhancer is the perfect, streamlined solution to get your electrolytes in with the added benefits of broad spectrum CBD.*
This enhancer contains everything you want from an electrolyte blend, including calcium, potassium, sodium, chloride, and magnesium. It even has B vitamins for an added burst of energy that can uplift your mornings and afternoons. Just a few drops in your water bottle and you have a quick, tasty electrolyte fix without the extra calories.
The bottom line
Electrolytes are often overlooked in the broad equation of health and wellness, but it’s time they got the attention they deserve. These powerful minerals are found throughout nature, but our modern world makes them tough to come by naturally.
By understanding the role of electrolytes and making an effort to include them in your daily routine, you can enjoy life to the fullest, from athletics to creative pursuits and more. These simple minerals might be the missing link in your health regimen, so why not give them a try?
Sunmed is dedicated to helping you get the most from your favorite CBD supplements with the added benefits of electrolytes, vitamins, and much more. We’re here to help you master your health and well-being with clean, natural ingredients as they’re meant to be.*