All About Electrolytes


By Dr. Briana Bluemel

Electrolyte powders seem to be all the rage right now, but what are electrolytes? Why do we even need them? Are all electrolyte powders created equal?

Electrolytes are essential minerals that interact with each other and other cells in tissues, nerves and muscles. This interaction regulates nerve and muscle function, hydrates the body, and helps rebuild damaged tissue. Examples of electrolytes include:

  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Calcium 
  • Chloride
  • Magnesium 
  • Phosphate 
  • Bicarbonate 

Electrolytes can become imbalanced for many reasons. Some of the most common are: intense sweating from strenuous activity, prolonged periods of vomiting/diarrhea, poor diet, certain medications, and severe dehydration. (Fun fact: an estimated 75% of Americans suffer from chronic dehydration) Below is an example of some of the symptoms one may experience if they were deficient in a certain electrolyte, along with common food sources of those electrolytes.

For the past few years, the market of electrolyte powders and replacement drinks has been exploding. While it is preferred to get your nutrients through whole, unprocessed foods, sometimes we need some extra help. However, it is important to do your research when choosing the right supplement. Many of these powders are loaded with chemical fillers and tons of sugar. Two brands that I personally recommend are: 

  1. Seeking Health- Optimal Electrolytes 
  2. LMNT- Unflavored Packets 

Summary: In this HOT South Carolina weather, we may be constantly searching for something to keep ourselves hydrated. While there is a plethora of supplements on the market, be careful that you aren’t choosing one that will do more harm than good! Stay cool!