Electrolytes such as Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium, and Calcium are crucial for muscle function and overall health.†
There are natural ways to achieve electrolyte balance such as drinking water and electrolyte water, and table salt.†
Electrolytes are essential minerals such as Sodium, Potassium, and Magnesium vital to many key bodily functions. We need them to perform everyday activities that require muscle contractions and movement and to help replenish water and nutrients.†
Getting enough electrolytes daily and replenishing them when needed can help our body perform at its best. Let’s dive into how to get electrolytes replenished from food and water.
The Importance of Electrolytes for Your Health
Electrolytes are minerals in our body that generate an electric charge when dissolved in water. They provide many health benefits to the body as they play a role in maintaining fluid balance and regulating the body’s pH control.
Examples of vital electrolytes include Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium, and Calcium. Other critical functions of electrolytes include transporting nutrients into cells, removing waste, ensuring the proper functioning of our nerves, and facilitating muscle contractions.
Low electrolyte levels can occur due to our food and water intake or a lack thereof. For example, if you drink a lot of plain water but lose a lot of sweat from exercise, your electrolytes may dip low. This is because you lose electrolytes as you sweat, especially Sodium.
If you are concerned about an electrolyte deficiency (actually an imbalance), discussing this concern with your doctor is essential. It’s also important to know how to replenish electrolytes naturally.
Knowing how to replenish electrolytes in advance can help reduce the risk of them going low in the first place. Let’s address how to get electrolytes in balance in three natural ways.
1. Hydrate with Water
Staying hydrated with regular water intake can help keep you in electrolyte balance. Electrolyte levels can become too high or too low if you are under or over-hydrated.
If you tend to forget to drink water, here are a few tips to be more consistent:
Drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up. Before you pour your morning coffee, sip water. Our bodies need fluid replenishment after a long night’s rest, and coffee can be dehydrating. Plus, starting with water helps set your water habit for the rest of the day.
Use a water bottle that can travel wherever you go. If you don’t have a water bottle you like, it’s time to invest in one or more. Look for bottles that are insulated to keep your water cool and that carry enough water for your needs in case you’re somewhere you can’t refill easily. Having water on hand during the day (and at your bedside at night) means you won’t have to go hunting for something to drink when you’re thirsty.
Dress up your water. Plain water can get boring, but that doesn’t mean you should opt for sodas or sugary drinks. Try adding flavor to your water by infusing it with cut limes, lemons, berries, or cucumbers. Mix and match flavors—the combinations will keep it interesting.
Make Decaf tea. If you’re tired of drinking cool water, you can opt for a warm cup of calming decaffeinated tea. Adding a teabag to a mug of water will infuse it with flavor and still provide you with hydration.
Determine your fluid Most men need approximately 13 cups (104 oz), and women need approximately 9 cups (72 oz) of fluids daily. However, this can vary further depending on your activity level and medical status. If you’re unsure, consult with your doctor or a registered dietitian. Remember this is all fluids including from your food sources. Consuming high water content foods like fruits and veggies will help you reach your hydration goals.
Hydrating this way is essential if you’re active or engaging in longer workouts, but it is just as crucial on rest days. Here are some more tips on how to rehydrate fast.
In addition to fluids, increasing your electrolyte intake from foods can also help support healthy electrolyte levels. These foods can help replace lost electrolytes and are grouped by the electrolyte they are highest in - Sodium, Calcium, Magnesium, and Potassium.
The normal American diet contains enough Sodium so you don’t need to seek out high-salt foods. If you want an easy meal idea high in Sodium, combine canned black beans with brown rice.
Enjoy this easy meal idea high in Calcium - roasted broccoli with shredded mozzarella cheese. Nature Made® Calcium supplements are also available to supplement your Calcium needs.
Enjoy a daily handful of mixed nuts like pistachios, almonds, and walnuts for an easy Magnesium-rich snack. Nature Made® also has a line of Magnesium supplements to help support your Magnesium needs.
Try a smoothie with spinach, banana, and protein powder for an easy High-Potassium meal.
While hydration and electrolytes are essential at any time, they are especially critical during exercise. Here are a few cases where knowing how to get electrolytes replenished is of utmost importance.
If you’re doing a high intesity exercise for longer than an hour. Examples include if you’re a distance runner or biker participating in endurance workouts.
You’re exerting yourself in hot weather. Exercising in the hot weather makes you sweat more than usual, leading to dehydration and depleted electrolytes if you’re not replenishing what’s lost.
You sweat a lot or are a particularly salty sweater. If you work up a sweat quickly or are a salty sweater, you’ll want to prioritize electrolyte replenishment. You know you’re a salty sweater if your sweat tastes overly salty or you notice white crystals on your skin when you sweat. That is the sign of your electrolytes leaving your body!
As you sweat and your body heats up, your body not only needs to replace water lost, but it also needs to replenish electrolytes. During prolonged exercise, your body primarily loses water and Sodium, therefore, plain water may not cut it in this case.
This is because if you drink plain water when your Sodium is already low, it will only dilute it further in your blood. Choosing an electrolyte beverage or electrolyte powder to replace lost electrolytes is recommended in these situations to get ahead of this for hydration support.†
Knowing how to get electrolytes is beneficial for overall health. You can learn how to replenish electrolytes by staying hydrated throughout the day, eating foods rich in essential electrolytes, and hydrating properly while exercising.
† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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Melissa Mitri, RD is a seasoned dietitian and health writer. She specializes in helping women move away from restrictive habits that lead to vicious yo-yo weight cycles. Melissa enjoys writing about health, nutrition, and fitness with the goal of simplifying complex health topics for the reader. Find out more about Melissa at www.melissamitri.com
Lynn is a Registered Dietitian (R.D.) and is a member of the Medical and Scientific Communications team at Pharmavite. She has over 20 years of experience in integrative and functional nutrition and has given lectures to health professionals and consumers on nutrition, dietary supplements and related health issues. Lynn frequently conducts employee trainings on various nutrition topics in addition to educating retail partners on vitamins, minerals and supplements. Lynn has previous clinical dietitian expertise in both acute and long-term care, as well as nutrition counseling for weight management, diabetes, and sports nutrition. Lynn earned a bachelor’s of science in Nutrition with a minor in Kinesiology/Exercise Science from The Pennsylvania State University. She earned a M.S. degree in Human Nutrition from Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Lynn is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Sports Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutritionists, Dietitians in Functional Medicine, and holds a certification in Integrative and Functional Nutrition through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.