Learn More About Electrolytes
What are electrolytes?
Electrolytes are basically tools of homeostasis used by the body to maintain balance. Electrolytes have their name because they are able to move in and out of cells in order to facilitate the transmission of electric signals within the body. Some electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium carry positive charges, while others such as chloride, bicarbonate, phosphate and sulfate carry negative charges.
This ability to transmit electrical signals is due to the electron distribution imbalance. These little messengers play an important role in the proper functioning of the human body.
How do they function in the body?
In order to perform optimally, your body needs the proper concentration of electrolytes, both inside the cells and outside the cells. These electrolytes help regulate hydration, acidity/ph, nerve and muscle signaling. Below is a list of the electrolytes needed by the body as well as their charges along with the recommended daily amounts:
* sodium (Na+) 2400 mg
* potassium (K+) 3500 mg
* chloride (Cl-) 3400 mg
* calcium (Ca2+) 1000 mg
* magnesium (Mg2+) 400 mg
* bicarbonate (HCO3-) No RDA
* phosphate (PO42-) No RDA
* sulfate (SO42-) No RDA
The kidney is largely responsible for regulating these electrolytes. It functions by filtering out excesses and excreting them in the urine. For instance, if you have too much sodium the kidney will send a message to the brain to induce thirst, and therefore dilute the sodium. It will then filter out excess sodium and maintain a proper balance of sodium relative to the other electrolytes and water. Conversely, if you're sodium levels are low, the kidney will excrete more water to increase the concentration of sodium.
Why should I supplement with electrolytes?
Let us recall that the human body communicates via electrical impulses. Muscle tissue contraction and nervous system transmission are dependent on electrolytes to send and receive messages. Having this in mind, it is important to note that we lose electrolytes through our sweat and urine. This loss of electrolytes is increased during strenuous activity such as running, lifting weights and other exercises. If you reach for a glass of water after an intense workout, you might actually be doing your body a disservice, because you're only further diluting the remaining electrolytes that you have not lost due to sweat and perspiration. Your kidneys then have to work overtime to filter out the water in order to increase the concentration of the remaining electrolytes.
Let's look closer at muscle contraction. In order for proper muscle contraction you must have sodium, potassium and calcium. Without the proper concentration of these three electrolytes, muscle weakness or uncontrolled muscle spasms might occur. So whether you're looking for that powerful pump in the weight room or going a few extra miles on the track, consider supplementing with electrolytes. If you do the math, you will actually save money by buying your own electrolyte supplements and including them with a good old-fashioned bottle of water. When you do a cost per bottle comparison, versus some the leading sports drinks, you will surely come out ahead.
I am sure you have all heard of a very popular sports drink, which was fabled to have been designed for the Florida Gators to increase their athletic performance. The main premise behind this drink's enhancing nature was its electrolyte composition. This drink includes sodium, potassium and chloride and is thought to replace the electrolytes lost in your sweat. They have now created a multimillion dollar sports drink industry that revolves around electrolytes.
Signs of deficiency
Some signs that you may have an acute electrolyte imbalance include: lightheadedness, cramping, confusion, nausea, muscle spasms and twitches. If you feel just a little "off" after an intense workout, it may be due to an electrolyte imbalance.
What are the dangers?
Unless you're setting a personal record to consume the highest amount of electrolytes possible in the shortest amount of time, there really are no dangers. Supplementing responsibly with electrolytes is considered safe, because if you ingest more than your body needs the kidneys will simply filter out the excess amount and excrete it. Save money and get a more rewarding workout with electrolyte supplements from A1Supplements.com.