Since electrolytes play an important part in the proper functioning of the body, an adequate intake and concentration of these are vital to carry out the operations. However, there might be times when there are too few or too many electrolytes in the body. This can be caused through dehydration, severe laxative abuse, etc. and is proven to be fatal as it might lead to severe consequences like headaches, muscle cramping, irregular heartbeat, and even death by cardiac failure.
How Are Electrolytes Beneficial to the Body?
Electrolytes are beneficial for the body in many ways, some of which are-
- Electrolytes are vital for muscle movement and brain-muscle contact in the body.
- A proper amount of electrolytes keeps the body hydrated and the pH level on balance at all times.
- The electrolyte ions carry the electrical energy required for essential neural functions and regular functions as well.
The recommended quantity of sodium is just about 2300mg per day, which is usually fulfilled by the regular diet, and hence needs no external supplements. Just drink an adequate amount of water and follow a proper diet, and the electrolytes will do wonders for your body.
|Exercising results in dehydration through sweat and even lowers the electrolyte levels in the body.
Foods High in Electrolytes
A proper diet is just enough to keep a balance of electrolytes in the body. However, certain food items are high sources of electrolytes, some of which are-
1. Dairy: Milk and Yogurt
A glass of milk and some low-fat yogurt are wonderful sources of major electrolytes. A 16oz (488gm) glass of milk contains as much as 210mg of sodium and 551mg of calcium, along with potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus.
A cup of low-fat yogurt contains 625mg of potassium, 189mg of sodium, along with good quantities of magnesium, calcium, and even phosphorus. Unless you are lactose intolerant or follow veganism, dairy products will be one of the best sources of electrolytes.
[ Read: Benefits of Greek Yogurt ]
2. Fruits: Banana, Watermelon, Avocado
Fruits are a great source of electrolytes and also provide proper nutrition and taste. Fruits like banana have a high content of potassium and magnesium. Watermelon is also a reliable source of potassium along with other electrolytes and acts as an excellent replenisher for the body.
3. Vegetables: Spinach, Lettuce, Tomato
Vegetables are good for overall health and provide a lot of nutrients along with electrolytes. Spinach contains a high amount of potassium and magnesium(1) along with some sodium.
One cup of lettuce contains as much as 131mg of potassium along with trace amounts of sodium, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorous. Tomatoes, especially sun-dried tomatoes, contain high amounts of potassium and sodium.
[ Read: Green Leafy Vegetables Benefits ]
4. Coconut Water
Coconut water is one of the best ways to hydrate and replenish the supply of electrolytes in the body. One cup (240gm) of coconut water contains 252mg of sodium, 600mg of potassium, 60mg of magnesium, 58mg of calcium, and 48mg of phosphorus along with trace amounts of other important minerals. One cup of coconut water every day is best for hydrating and replenishing electrolytes.
5. Nuts: Peanuts, Almonds
Sodium is an essential electrolyte as it regulates the quantity of water in the body and helps in several neural functions. This electrolyte can be replenished through peanuts and almonds in raw form or to make it tastier, in the form of peanut butter or almond butter. These two provide adequate amounts of sodium along with other important contents like proteins and fats.
[ Read: Low Phosphorous Foods ]
6. Other Dietary Sources
A proper diet contains appropriate amounts of electrolytes as well as many essential parts necessary for the human body. Lactose intolerant people or vegans can consume alternatives such as soy milk that contain similar amounts of electrolytes as milk and other dairy products.
One glass of unsweetened soy milk contains 598mg of potassium, 598mg of calcium along with sodium and magnesium. However, it does not contain any phosphorus.
Swiss cheese can also be included in the diet as it contains a good amount of calcium and phosphorus, as well as small quantities of sodium, potassium, and magnesium.
When it comes to greens, celery is also considered to be a good source of potassium. Other sources of electrolytes include potatoes, mushrooms, cucumber, cabbage, kiwi, orange, etc.
|ORS Hydration Tablets are available in the market for general hydration or providing extra electrolytes that provide rapid and more effective replenishment to the body. Always keep one with you!
As the saying goes, anything in excess or deficient amounts is harmful to the body. Therefore, electrolyte imbalance is the significant risk involved with the consumption of electrolytes. Apart from sodium, most of the electrolytes are not in high quantity in the regular diet and hence, many people turn towards external supplements, which, in many cases, can be fatal. Some of the risks involved with electrolyte imbalance are-
- Excess amounts of calcium tablets can result in kidney stones(2).
- High sodium causes fluids to move out of the cells and can cause headaches and even personality changes.
- If the potassium levels are either too low or too much, it directly affects your heartbeat. Small amounts of potassium result in an irregular heartbeat, while excess quantity can cause the heart to stop beating.
Electrolytes have the same function for the human body as the engine oil of any vehicle. It does not carry out any function on itself but is essential for the smooth functioning of all the processes.
Although a regular diet fulfills more or less the daily recommended quantity of electrolyte minerals, some minerals might not be present in the diet and can be fulfilled through supplements – though a medical doctor should prescribe the amount.
[ Read: Selenium Rich Foods ]
1. Can I take supplements for electrolytes?
It is always recommended to fulfill the requirements through natural sources like fruits and vegetables. However, if your diet has a deficiency of electrolytes, then you should consult a doctor and get recommended supplements.
2. What are some drinks that contain electrolytes?
Juices like orange, lemon, and apple are rich in electrolytes. Several energy drinks available in the market are also rich in electrolytes.