Be Honest: Do You Know What Electrolytes Actually Are?
What Are Electrolytes, For Real?
We All Know What Electrolytes Are. Right?
You’ve probably heard or read the word electrolyte hundreds of times just this week. And it’s like, yeah, we know exactly what those are. We’ve always known! They’re good for you, they sound serious, and they’re in lots of drinks!
You’re right. But are you completely sure about the details?
What are electrolytes made of? Where do they come from? How does your body use them?
Unless you’re a professional nutritionist (hello out there!), you probably can’t explain all that. And neither could we, until we made friends with nutritionists (we love you!).
Basically, electrolytes are salts. Aren’t you glad this came so early in the article? You could quit now, but there’s some good stuff coming.
To be clear, we’re not talking about table salt. In a way, electrolytes are more like unprocessed sea salt, which retains important minerals. Electrolytes is a quick-and-easy way to refer to those essential, basic minerals, including sodium, magnesium, calcium, and potassium.
Even more specifically, these essential minerals in the electrolyte family form ions—electrically charged atoms—in your body. Once inside the body, electrolytes dissolve into negative and positive charges. These charges have two main functions: regulating the flow of water in and out of cells, and sparking nerve impulses.
So that answers the first question: What are electrolytes made of?
Now to answer the second question (where do they come from?) we can go all the way back to the formation of the planet. Electrolytes are minerals—they come from the earth! Fast-forward to the modern era, and it’s a little harder to get all the essential minerals we need, due in part to soil degradation and increased stress, which depletes the minerals we manage to consume. (For more on that vicious cycle, check out our article on magnesium.)
But back to the key info: what's the easiest way to get electrolytes today? Eat a balanced diet and take supplements, either in beverage or pill form. In other words, the solution is pretty straightforward—you just have to be informed!
And now for the third question: how does your body use electrolytes?
It’s actually easier to start backwards here, with how we lose electrolytes. When you work out, you deplete your body of electrolytes through sweat. The same thing happens when you party hard. The same thing happens when you stress hard. So it’s important to replenish electrolytes to regulate blood pressure, breathing (especially when you’re working out) and cell hydration. That’s right: electrolytes play a role in some of the most basic functions of our hard-working bodies.
So, one last question. You’ll be glad you stayed for this one: Can you get electrolytes from water?
Nope. Sorry. It’s still incredibly, vitally important to drink enough water, but if you’re working out or partying hard, it’s important to both hydrate and replenish your lost electrolytes in the most efficient way possible.
Any other questions? Get in touch! You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org