Almost as important as staying hydrated is maintain proper electrolyte levels in your body. When we don’t maintain proper electrolyte levels in our bodies we run the risk of experiencing muscle and abdomen cramps and more.
At its most basic state, an electrolyte is a substance that contains free ions and makes a substance electrically conductive. Now, why would you want something in your body that’s electrically conductive? Basically, because your muscle tissue and neurons are considered to be “electric tissues” physiologically and therefore need to be activated to function properly.
The primary electrolytes that our body requires are sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, chloride, hydrogen carbonate and hydrogen phosphate. Each of these electrolytes is important to ensure our bodies stay in balance and hydrated. Hydration is vital for nerve and muscle function. Your kidneys actually work and do their best to keep your electrolyte levels constant, but when you’re working out and sweating heavily, it’s difficult for your body to keep up and you begin to lose your electrolyte concentrations.
Of course, there are sports drinks and other products on the market that are designed to help replenish electrolytes. However, they are often filled with sugar and flavorings that have no nutritional value. They make the drink taste better and give you more energy, but this is energy derived from processing sugar and nothing more
While sports drinks do have their uses and can even be helpful if you’re very ill and vomiting, you really need something that is not filled with sugar and artificial flavorings. Ideally, you should find a supplement that provides your body with a full spectrum of electrolytes and a good source of carbohydrates.
When you take a supplement that provides you with electrolytes, you will receive sodium chloride and potassium primarily. These two electrolytes are vital to your muscles and your heart. Sodium chloride helps to control your body’s water balance. When you are deficient in sodium chloride you will begin to experience symptoms such as muscle twitching and possibly even an abnormal heartbeat. Sodium assists in the amino acid absorption and helps to deposit minerals in the blood stream. In addition to being required for normal muscle function, it is vital to healthy nerve function as well.
Potassium is the other vital electrolyte you will receive. Potassium provides a wide range of benefits and helps to ensure the osmotic gradients in the body between intracellular and extracellular fluid are maintained and works with sodium to do that. Potassium deficiency can result in muscle weakness, spasms, cramping, a rapid heartbeat and even nausea.
Both sodium and potassium are essential to be taken together, as they work together in a process called the “sodium-potassium pump” in the body. Essentially and in the most basic terms, potassium pulls fluid into the muscle cell, while sodium pulls the fluid from the muscle. Together they work to maintain proper water balance within the cells.
By taking electrolytes with your daily supplements, you’ll never have to be concerned about not having enough electrolytes while working out. As long as you stay hydrated with water, your electrolytes will be plentiful and you’ll experience fewer muscle cramps, muscle and mental fatigue, and you’ll benefit from stronger muscle contractions.
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