When it comes to fitness workouts, your body requires a good supply of certain minerals containing an electrical charge and assist with the transporting of fluids and nerve messages, the contraction of muscle fibers, and other important functions. These electrically charged minerals are known as electrolytes and they are radically diminished through severe fluid depletion as a result of profuse sweating, diarrhea, or vomiting.
Symptoms of Dehydration
When your body is depleted of these electrolyte minerals, you become dehydrated. Symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration can include thirst, a sticky or dry mouth, being sleepy or tired, dry skin, headache, constipation and low urine output, lack of tears, lightheadedness or dizziness.
Severe dehydration is considered a medical emergency. Symptoms of severe dehydration include extreme cases of the above plus lack of sweat, low blood pressure, sunken eyes, rapid breathing and heartbeat, fever, and little to no urine, and what is produced is dark. The end result of severe dehydration if not immediately treated is delirium and unconsciousness, even potential death.
The 5 Main Electrolyte Minerals
Following are the 5 main minerals which are considered electrolytes due to being able to hold an electrical charge. Electrically charged minerals have special purposes in ensuring that the body functions correctly. If these minerals are depleted, your health is compromised until they are replenished.
Sports drinks were created to replenish these important electrolyte minerals in those who sweat profusely during workouts or sporting events. However, sports drinks are notoriously high in sugars. Therefore, foods and beverages that contain each mineral are also provided so that they can be replenished naturally.
Potassium – This mineral abides within cells and serves to balance the volume of fluids that are used for regulating blood pressure, maintaining cardiovascular health, and providing smooth muscle contraction. If your body has low potassium, you may experience irregular heartbeat, dizziness, confusion, or muscle cramps. You can quickly replenish low potassium levels by eating bananas, oranges, dried fruits, broccoli, tomatoes, and avocados.
Sodium – Sodium is found in the fluids surrounding cells. It assists with heart and skeletal muscle contraction as well as maintaining a balanced fluid volume in the body. If you have low sodium levels, you may experience irregular heartbeat, cramping, and low blood pressure. Because most foods (especially those that are processed and restaurant prepared) are high in sodium, deficiencies of this mineral are rare. On the contrary, people usually suffer more from high stores of sodium in their subcutaneous tissue which cause water retention and bloating. To replenish sodium, drink store-bought fruit or vegetable juices or eat an energy bar, both of which generally contain high amounts of sodium (salt). You can also add some sea salt to a glass of freshly squeezed juice or water.
Chloride – The mineral chloride also dwells in the fluid outside of the body’s cells and in the blood. This electrolyte attaches to other minerals to help regulate fluid levels and assist with the healthy function of cell activity. Chloride routinely attaches to sodium to produce sodium chloride. Therefore, deficiencies of chloride are also uncommon and can be obtained from the same foods and drinks that are high in sodium.
Calcium – This mineral is well known for being a necessity in bone growth and maintenance and the health of the cardiovascular system. However, calcium is also required for proper muscle contraction. Low calcium levels result in irregular heart rhythms, muscle weakness, and osteoporosis. Calcium can be replenished by consuming eggs, grains, dairy products, kale, and broccoli.
Magnesium – This mineral is necessary for enzyme reactions and to provide optimum bone health. As a charged particle, it aids in the relaxation of muscle tissue. Magnesium deficiencies are common in those who have liver disease or are alcoholics. Low magnesium levels cause cramps, low blood pressure, thin blood and difficulty with clotting, and muscle tremors and weakness. To replenish magnesium levels, consume foods such as meat, vegetables, beans and legumes, milk, grains, and nuts.