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Electrolytes are chemicals that conduct electricity when mixed with water. They contribute to regular nerve and muscle function, balance blood pressure, help rebuild damaged tissue and keep you hydrated.
In fact, the muscles and neurons in the human body are often referred to as the 'electric tissues' of the body. That's because they in particular rely on electrolytes to function properly. The different types of electrolytes in the human body include:
Electrolytes are essential for our bodies to function as they should. Many automatic processes in the body, such as muscle contraction, rely on the small electric current provided by electrolytes to function by interacting with each other and the cells in the tissues, nerves, and muscles.
For example: a muscle needs calcium, sodium, and potassium to contract. When these substances become imbalanced, it can lead to either muscle weakness or excessive contraction. Another example is the nervous system, which relies on electrolytes to carry electrical impulses to other cells.
A balance of different electrolytes is vital for healthy function.
There are several factors that can cause your electrolyte levels to decrease, but the predominant cause of low electrolyte levels and electrolyte imbalance is a change in relation to the water levels in your body.
For example, important electrolytes such as sodium and potassium are lost through sweat during exercise or due to hot climate. The concentration of electrolytes in your body can also be affected by rapid loss of fluids, such as a bout of diarrhoea or vomiting. There are several ways in which electrolytes are lost within the body, including:
Though some health conditions, such as kidney disease, congestive heart failure and bulimia, and some drugs including diuretics can cause an electrolyte imbalance. Please speak to your GP if you suffer from any of these conditions and are concerned about electrolyte imbalance.
There are many, easy ways in which you can replace electrolyte levels naturally and keep your electrolyte levels up, including:
Nothing beats a healthy, balanced diet to provide all the nutrients we need. But when this isn’t possible, supplements can help. This article isn’t intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying supplements or herbal medicines.