You might see electrolytes mentioned on sports drinks or expensive bottled water, but what exactly are they and do you really need them to stay hydrated? Let’s look at some of the facts and theories behind electrolytes and hydration.
What are electrolytes?
An electrolyte is a particle that carries an electric charge and can conduct electricity when combined with water. In this context, we’re talking about essential minerals, such as sodium and potassium, that allow things like our muscle tissues and nerve cells to function properly. They are necessary to allow our muscles to contract and our nerves to send signals.
Important electrolytes include:
Electrolytes also play an important role in hydration. If you don’t drink enough fluids or eat enough food, or if you lose a lot of fluids through excessive sweating, vomiting, or diarrhea, then you can experience an electrolyte imbalance. Imbalances can cause mild to severe symptoms, from fatigue, weakness, and muscle twitches to confusion, seizures, and an irregular heartbeat.
This is because your body loses both fluids and electrolytes when you sweat or excrete fluid in other ways. So, it’s important to replace those electrolytes just like you replace your fluids to stay hydrated.
How to replace electrolytes
Most of our electrolytes come from the food that we eat. For example, two common electrolytes are sodium and chloride, aka table salt. Of course, salt is one of the substances that we need to consume in moderation for the sake of heart health and other aspects of our health, but it is still necessary to a degree.
Are sports drinks or electrolyte water necessary for staying hydrated and replenishing your electrolytes? For most people, the answer is no. Elite athletes or those who take part in long events such as marathon running can benefit from electrolyte drinks to maintain the balance in their bodies. However, most people will simply be able to restore their electrolytes by eating a healthy snack or meal after their workout.
Also, most water contains trace amounts of electrolytes (except for filtered water), so you’re still topping them up slightly if you drink enough water during your workouts. Even if it’s water straight from the tap!
Mountain Park Spring Water are here to keep you hydrated with our bottled water delivery service and water dispensers and filtration systems. Get in touch to find out more about our services across North Carolina and Virginia.