What Are Electrolytes?

By albert
Reviewed: Dr. Gromatzky
Apr 15, 2020
Medical Expert Medical Expert

Electrolytes are parts of compounds, usually salts, which become electrically charged ions when they are in solution form. These electrically charged components are critical for many chemical processes in the body including nervous communication, muscle function, and maintenance of body fluid levels. Indeed, electrolytes are necessary for survival. An electrolyte has either a positive or negative electric charge. The most abundant and most important electrolytes in the human body include sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, bicarbonate, and phosphate.

These electrolytes get into the body through foods and drinks. To ensure that your body gets an adequate supply of the various electrolytes, it is important to include a wide variety of foods and drinks in your diet on a regular basis. Low than normal amounts of one or more electrolytes in the body can affect some processes, which can lead to dysfunctions.

1. How Electrolytes Work

As mentioned earlier, your body uses different electrolytes to carry out many of its processes. For instance, in order for your body to maintain the right amount of body fluid, it requires to excrete some of the water together with other waste materials. This process is controlled by the electrolytes sodium and potassium. Sodium works from outside cells while potassium works from inside the cells, each influencing movement of water in its direction. If these electrolytes are not in proper balance, the body may lose or retain more fluid than necessary. Other functions of electrolytes include maintenance of the right pH or acidity vs alkalinity, contracting and relaxation of muscles, transmission of nervous impulses, control of the heartbeat, building and repair of body tissue.


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