Electrolytes are minerals in your blood and other bodily fluids that carry electric charge. Electrolytes affect the following bodily functions: the acidity or pH of your blood, muscle function, the amount of water in the body and many other functions. The concentration of electrolytes in the body is controlled by a variety of hormones which are mainly made in the kidneys and adrenal glands. Hormones that affect electrolyte levels include: renin, angiotensin, aldosterone, and antidiuretic hormones. When you sweat, especially during the hot summer months, you lose electrolytes and you must drink fluids that contain them (water does not). The following are electrolytes: calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium.
Sodium is usually found in the plasma part of the bloodstream. It is a part of water regulation in the body, since as we know, water goes where sodium goes. If you consume a high salt diet, it’s excreted by the kidneys and water will follow. Sodium also helps with electrical signals in the body which allows muscles and the brain to work. Potassium is most concentrated inside of the cells and is essential in generating electrical impulses that allow muscles and the brain to function. Magnesium is involved in metabolic activities within the body and acts as a cofactor in enzyme activity. Calcium helps build strong bones and teeth, is important for heart function, and assists in muscle contraction, nerve signaling and blood clotting. Chloride works with the other above electrolytes in keeping balance of bodily fluids and helping to maintain the acid-base balance. And lastly, phosphorus functions much like calcium. It is important for nerve signaling, muscle contraction and building strong bones. So, as you can see, electrolytes are an essential component to bodily functions and life.