THE NITTY GRITTYWhen you are talking hydration, you are talking about fluids and electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals and salts required for all cell function, including water/fluid balance, moving nutrients and wastes into and out of your cells, and balancing pH levels. Any change in electrolyte balance can result in either too much water in your system (overhydration) or too little (dehydration). One of the best ways to ensure proper electrolyte balance is with minerals and mineral salts, namely sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. The sodium chloride is best known as salt. It’s comprised of extracellular fluid and used in conjunction with water to create a saline solution. Sodium regulates blood pressure and volume, balances pH, normalizes the heartbeat, and supports osmosis. Excess sodium has been linked to hypertension, stroke, and heart attack1 which is why it’s important to balance out sodium with other minerals. Along with sodium, potassium also normalizes heartbeat. It also ensures that nutrients get into cells, where they can be broken down for energy. Plus, it helps maintains a slightly alkaline state in your cells and tissues. Potassium is also the yin to sodium’s yang, working to offset excess sodium in the body. In fact, research shows that a potassium deficiency as been associated with blood pressure concerns in obese children,2 and that increasing potassium intake could reduce blood pressure, while also supporting cardiovascular and kidney health.3 Magnesium is critical for the active transport of ions like potassium and calcium across cell membranes for the conduction of nerve impulses, muscle contraction, normal heart rhythm, and cell signaling and migration. Its electrolyte benefits can be seen in its support of healthy blood pressure and its ability to ease leg cramps.4-6 Much like the sodium/potassium dance, magnesium and calcium also work synergistically. Calcium is necessary for regulating cellular processes, as well as communicating neurologic signals between cells. Like most electrolytes, calcium also supports healthy blood pressure.7-8 Additionally, calcium can help to alleviate muscle cramps, which can often accompany dehydration and overexertion. Getting a balanced mix of electrolyte minerals and mineral salts is critical to truly overcome dehydration and exhaustion, as well as support exercise recovery.
References: 1. Mente A, et al. Lancet. 2016;388(10043):465-75. 2. Falkner B. Curr Hypertens Rep. 2017 May;19(5):37. 3. McDonough AA, et al. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2017 Apr 1;312(4):E348-E356. 4. Sanjuliani AF, et al. Int J Cardiol. 1996;56:177-83. 5. Widman L, et al. Am J Hypertens. 1993;6:41-5. 6. Dahle LO, et al. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1995;173:175-80. 7. da Silva Ferreira T, et al. Br J Nutr. 2013;110:1079-88. 8. Allender PS, et al. Ann Intern Med. 1996;124:825-31.