Are your electrolytes in balance? As the hotter days draw near and we start to sweat more, we usually need to hydrate more. But did you know that sometimes plain water just doesn't cut it? If our electrolytes are out of whack, we need to restore them. First, we need to understand what the crucial electrolytes are, and some symptoms if we have an imbalance. The best way to really know is to have a metabolic blood panel done by your physician.
Each electrolyte plays an essential role in the function of our body. Some of the most common electrolytes and their role in our bodies are:
Calcium is best known for supporting healthy bones, but it's also an essential element in helping with muscle contractions and blood clotting. Some signs you could be low in calcium are weakness and muscle spasms. Signs your calcium is too high are kidney stones, abdominal pain, and depression.
Magnesium helps with proper heart rate, nerve function, digestion, and reducing anxiety. Typically, most people have low magnesium levels and may notice symptoms like constipation, anxiety, trouble sleeping, and muscle cramps. Those on certain blood pressure medications tend to run lower in magnesium as well.
Phosphate is closely tied to calcium, and low phosphate levels are seen when calcium levels are low. Some symptoms of low phosphate are breathing difficulties, muscle weakness, and fatigue. This is a less common electrolyte to be deficient in, but can happen if someone is malnourished, has alcoholism or a kidney disorder.
Potassium is best known for keeping blood pressure levels steady. Too much potassium can be very dangerous as it can cause heartbeat irregularities and is commonly associated with kidney failure. Someone with low potassium may experience headaches and other dehydration symptoms.
Sodium is responsible for the fluid control in our bodies. Too much sodium is typically linked to dehydration because there is too little water. This can happen when we aren't drinking enough or are sick and have had diarrhea or vomiting episodes, as well as any excess sweating. Some signs our sodium is too low are frequent headaches and feeling lightheaded or dizzy.
Getting in added water is always a great idea, just remember to add the electrolytes especially if you have been exercising, sweating or sick. It’s a great idea to add an electrolyte drink to your day, but be careful not to add one that's also full of sugar, like many common sports drinks. There is no need for all of that added sugar and many electrolyte water enhancers taste great without them. Look for some that are full panel, meaning they have most of your body's electrolytes rather than just sodium or potassium. Unless of course you are too high or too low on any one specific electrolyte and need to boost that one up.
Emily Countryman is a board-certified health coach and owner of Ideal Wellness located at 2639 172nd St. NE, Suite 104 in Smokey Point. She can be reached online at www.idealwellnesswa.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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