Electrolytes are minerals that are essential for your body to function. They help regulate your pH levels and muscles, keep you hydrated, and more. Therefore, consuming enough electrolytes in your diet is important for your health.
Some of the common electrolytes found in the body are:
Each of these minerals carry an electric charge when dissolved in the body, giving them their name as an electrolyte. Additionally, each mineral has a different daily value ― a percentage of a nutrient per serving ― and some are more common in your diet than others.
Energy drinks are often associated with electrolytes. However, they usually include high amounts of sugars, preservatives, and colored dyes that may not be beneficial for your health. Instead, consider consuming electrolytes from healthier sources when possible.
Why You Need Electrolytes
Getting enough electrolytes is essential to maintaining a healthy body. While sustaining a healthy electrolyte level is usually attributed to eating a balanced diet, there are a number of occurrences that can disrupt these levels, such as vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, and more.
Since there are many different types of electrolytes, the daily recommended value (DRV) for each varies depending on age, gender, health status, and activity level. Here is the DRVs of key electrolytes for healthy individuals over the age of 18:
- Sodium: 500 milligrams
- Chloride: 750 milligrams
- Potassium: 2,000 milligrams
Electrolytes plays an important role in maintaining:
Healthy Water Balance
The amount of water in your body needs to be in balance with your electrolyte levels. Dehydration from diarrhea, sweating, and liver problems can upset that balance. Maintaining an adequate intake of both substances is fundamental to good health.
Electrolytes, and the electrical charges they carry, are a key part of how your muscles work. Low levels of electrolytes can cause muscle spasms, loss of reflexes, cramps, and even paralysis in extreme cases.
Potassium and phosphorus are especially important for healthy heart function. When potassium levels are too low, abnormal heart rhythms can occur. Extremely high potassium levels can also be dangerous, potentially stopping the heart from beating. Low phosphorus levels are associated with a risk of heart failure, seizures, and coma.
Foods With Electrolytes
Spinach is a phenomenal source of the electrolytes calcium and magnesium. For adults, a single cup of cooked spinach has a daily intake value of 24% calcium and 73% magnesium. This vegetable is also a wonderful source of other micronutrients, such as vitamin A and vitamin K.
2. Pickle Juice
Drinking pickle juice has become more common, and there’s science behind the trend. Typical pickle juice is loaded with sodium and chloride, which may be why it’s famed to reduce the duration of muscle spasms after workouts. It’s important not to over consume sodium, however, as too much of it can lead to health complications including hypertension.
Legumes are loaded with electrolytes. Lentils are a type of legume that are a great source of magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus as well as protein, making them a healthy addition to your diet.
4. Dried Apricots
Dried apricots are sweet and deliver good nutrients. A half cup of dried apricots has almost a quarter of the daily value of potassium for adults.
5. Sunflower Seeds
Nuts and seeds are generally a good source of magnesium. Sunflower seeds are also a good source of phosphorus, meaning you’re getting multiple electrolytes with every crunch.