What are electrolytes - and how do they actually work?

What are electrolytes - and how do they actually work?

What are electrolytes?

Electrolytes are naturally occurring salts and minerals that are found in the human body. They get their name from their ability to conduct electricity when combined with water, becoming either positively or negatively charged.

The human body contains a number of crucial electrolytes, including sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride and phosphate, and all are crucial for healthy body function. 

How do electrolytes work?

Electrolytes help our bodies carry out vital functions, playing an important role in muscle and nerve function, in particular. The three major electrolytes include: sodium, chloride and  potassium. These are blood electrolytes which are involved in cardiovascular,  muscular, and nervous systems.

  • Sodium regulates movement of water and creates electrical signals to control brain, nerve and muscle function.
  • Chloride helps maintain and stabilize fluid  levels and regulate pH balance. 
  • Potassium controls cell function, heartbeat regulation and muscle contraction, in cooperation with sodium. 

What happens when your body is low on electrolytes?

It is important to maintain a regular level of electrolytes in the body as an increased or decreased electrolyte level can lead to an imbalance and have negative effects.

Electrolytes are easily lost when the body loses a large amount of fluids, such as through sweating during exercise, or diarrhea and vomiting when you are unwell. This will also depend on various factors, such as your age and activity level. In all instances, it is necessary to replenish electrolytes to prevent an imbalance and prevent illness.

If sodium levels are too low, this can cause cells to expand which can have fatal consequences if brain cells are affected, resulting in seizures and loss of consciousness, also known as Hyponatremia.

An increase or decrease in potassium can lead to serious issues in the nervous system, increasing your chances of arrhythmias, also known as irregular heartbeat, which can also be life-threatening. 

Each electrolyte will show slightly different symptoms, however a few of the things to look out for are: 

  • irregular or fast heartbeat
  • fatigue
  • seizures
  • nausea and vomiting
  • diarrhea or constipation
  • abdominal cramping
  • muscle cramping and weakness
  • confusion and headaches

If you are experiencing these symptoms or think you may suffer from an electrolyte imbalance, please seek medical attention.

How to maintain a healthy electrolyte balance 

Generally, your daily food and drink intake will provide your body with all the electrolytes it needs, however, in some instances, you may need to take supplements to ‘top up’ on electrolytes. For example, if you take part in regular exercise, live in a hot climate, spend lots of time outdoors or are older in age, it is advised to take active precautions to regulate electrolyte levels to stay healthy.

This could include altering your diet to include more electrolyte-rich foods, such as:

  • Leafy greens- kale, spinach
  • Nuts- almonds, peanuts
  • Fruit- strawberries, watermelon, oranges, bananas

The quickest and easiest way to replenish electrolytes is to drink an electrolyte solution. SOS Hydration is an electrolyte drink which contains a medically-formulated blend of sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, citrate, zinc, and malic acid - giving you all the necessary electrolytes and more!

We had our product tested with an independent third party lab to compare it against all others on the market. We are proud to say that SOS is the most hypotonic drink out there, meaning we deliver the fastest absorption of electrolytes and rehydrate the body quicker than any other. 

See the full report to find out more.

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