What Are The Health Benefits Of Electrolytes And Electrolyte Water?

In today's modern world, nutrients are a lot easier to come by than previous generations. There are now plenty of fortified foods and beverages that provide individuals with what's needed to maintain a balanced diet and proper nutrition. For instance, many drinks on the market are fortified with electrolytes for those with active lifestyles. This is important because electrolytes play a critical role in the body. Key electrolytes utilized in the body include calcium, potassium, sodium, bicarbonate, and magnesium. Electrolytes are often lost through sweat or other biochemical reactions and should be replenished regularly. They're as just as important as vitamins and other nutrients.

Regulating Blood Pressure


One major role of electrolytes and electrolyte water is to regulate blood pressure. It's a process that involves adjusting fluid levels in the blood. Blood plasma, the fluid portion of blood, is made of approximately ninety-two percent water. An important electrolyte, sodium, binds to water molecules to help regulate blood pressure. It does this indirectly through interactions with sensors in the heart, blood vessels, and kidneys. When either blood pressure or sodium levels become low, these sensors trigger reactions for regulating blood pressure. One mechanism is to cause the kidneys to retain sodium and produce less urine, thereby increasing blood volume. Another method causes the pituitary gland to release vasopressin. This signals the kidneys to conserve water.

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Increasing And Maintaining Hydration


Electrolytes are almost as important as plain water when it comes to increasing and maintaining hydration levels. Water accounts for approximately sixty percent of the body's tissues. Intracellular and extracellular water levels have to be kept in balance for normal cellular functioning to take place. Electrolytes like potassium help with this process through their relationship with water molecules. An important electrolyte, sodium, can influence extracellular water content by binding with the water individuals consume. However, higher levels of sodium can lead to rapid dehydration as sodium is excreted through urine alongside bound water molecules. Higher levels of sodium can also negatively affect intracellular water content. This causes water molecules inside the cells to move outside the cells due to an osmotic pull.

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Regulating Body Temperature


Temperature regulation in the body is primarily governed by the hypothalamus in the brain. It works alongside other tissues, like skin, blood vessels, and sweat glands to increase or decrease the amount of heat retained in the body. Electrolytes play an important role in regulating body temperature as well. When internal temperatures are too high, the hypothalamus triggers the body to release sweat from glands in the middle layer of the dermis (skin). Salt within sweat enables water to be carried to the surface of the skin to evaporate. Once evaporation occurs, a cooling effect is achieved, thereby decreasing the body's internal temperature. Electrolytes are also responsible for relaxing or constricting the smooth muscles surrounding blood vessels. The primary electrolyte responsible for this process is calcium. When internal temperatures are low, constricting blood vessels enables the body to retain heat as less blood is carried to the surface of the skin. Rapid muscle contractions (shivering) also generate heat during this time, and they're generated through the signals electrolytes carry through the nervous system.

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Assisting With Muscle Contraction


Electrolytes are crucial to normal nerve functions and they are crucial to assisting with muscle contraction. Both nerve cells and muscle fibers work by utilizing energy and electrical impulses. The motor cortex communicates these impulses to neurons in the spinal column that radiate outward towards skeletal muscle. These electrical impulses are actually made of charged particles called ions, which are what electrolytes are. Ion channels in nerve cells allow electrolytes to pass through the way electrons moves along a current. Once the nerve impulse reaches the motor end plate (junction between the neuron and individual muscle fibers), a reaction between filaments in the muscle fiber occurs. This reaction is what causes the muscle to contract.

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Reduces Severity Of Illness


Certain ailments like the flu can have a wide variety of symptoms. They can also be damaging to the normal functioning of cells in the body. While electrolyte balance is critical for multiple physiological processes, it also reduces the severity of illnesses like the flu. One way electrolytes do this is by helping individuals remain hydrated. Proper hydration is essential for transporting white blood cells throughout the body to fight off infection. Hydrating well can also reduce the severity of fevers as an influx of water in the body helps disperse internal heat. Electrolytes can also help reduce the severity of headaches. They assist in the transport of fluids and electrical impulses the muscles and nerves responsible for headaches.


    HealthPrep Staff