Electrolytes are electrically charged minerals that help your body regulate hydration, nervous system function, muscle contraction, blood pH and even your heart function.

There are many different types of electrolytes that help the body perform important functions. Some common electrolytes include calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and sodium.

Do I need to worry about my electrolyte balance?

Luckily, most healthy people who eat a nutritious diet and stay hydrated do not have to worry about electrolyte imbalance. However, some common causes of electrolyte imbalance issues include:

  • Taking diuretics
  • Prolonged vomiting, diarrhea or high fever
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Hormonal disorders
  • Certain cancers, such as breast or lung cancer
  • Eating disorders
  • Overhydration: drinking too much water
  • Kidney disease

How can I maintain my electrolyte balance?

  • Make electrolyte-rich foods part of your diet: Include foods with calcium, chloride, magnesium, and potassium
  • Limit salt consumption: Although sodium is a crucial electrolyte, your body only needs 1 teaspoon per day.
  • Drink enough water: Try keeping a water bottle with you throughout the day.
  • Drink sports drinks after exercise: 8 oz. of sugar-free or low sugar sports drinks, such as Gatorade Zero, can help restore electrolytes lost while sweating or breathing rapidly.
  • Replenish electrolytes when you’re sick: Low sugar sports drinks, or rehydration drinks like Pedialyte, can help replenish vital electrolytes lost when you are sick.

Eat Your Electrolytes! 

Try including some of these electrolyte-rich foods in your diet!

  • Calcium. Milk, low-fat yogurt, meat, eggs, beans, certain fruits and vegetables such as asparagus, collard greens, and figs
  • Chloride. Olives, seaweed, tomatoes, lettuce, and celery
  • Magnesium. Leafy green vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and peanut butter
  • Potassium. Cooked spinach, sweet potato, banana, avocado, and peas

Sources: Rush University Medical Center, Healthline. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only.  For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.