Welcome to our guide dedicated to electrolytes. We all know how important it is to drink enough water to stay hydrated throughout the day. However, has it ever happened to you that, despite a good quantity of ingested liquids, you still feel the need to drink, and at the same time you feel tired and exhausted?
In this case, you may be faced with an imbalance in electrolyte levels. Electrolytes are particles of vital importance for our well-being, as they help regulate the amount of water in the body and the transmission of nerve and muscle impulses.
Here we had listed out the best electrolytes supplements that are given below.
Buyer Guide to Choose the Best Electrolytes Supplements
Currently, you can find various brands that offer different formats for their consumption, whether they are in capsules, gels, powder, or in the form of drinks that contain these mineral salts.
What Are Electrolytes?
In the field of nutrition, the term electrolyte defines a group of electrically charged particles (ions) which are indispensable for the proper functioning of the human body. In combination with body water, these particles determine the composition of the internal environment (the liquid inside and outside the cells).
The conduction of cellular impulses will depend on the balance of these ions, an invaluable process for us, but essential for the development of the metabolic, muscular, or neuronal activities that we carry out during the day.
The most common electrolytes in the human body are sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, and phosphorus. Some of the aforementioned electrolytes also have structural functions. For example, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium are essential components of the bone structure.
However, in this article, we will focus on the actions of these elements related to the electrolyte balance. Of course, it will be necessary to take into account the fact that the most important actions of electrolytes are the result of a synergistic combination of all these effects.
If our body maintains balanced levels of electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, it will be able to perform the following functions without problems:
- Maintenance of hydration levels
- Maintaining the acid / basic balance (pH)
- Transport of nutrients within the cells
- Elimination of cellular waste
- Regulation of the function of nerves, muscles, heart, and brain
What Symptoms Does an Electrolyte Deficiency Produce?
If you suffer from an imbalance of electrolyte levels in your body, the transmission of cellular impulses will suffer and communication between the cells of the body will be impaired.
This situation will lead to the appearance of several harmful effects on your health. In the following list you will find the main symptoms of an electrolyte deficiency:
- Mild electrolytic deficiency
- Muscle cramps
- Muscle weakness
- Little resistance in sport or effort
- Feeling tired
- The thirst that does not disappear even by drinking water
- Frequent need to urinate
- Preference for salty foods
- Fancy sweets or fast food
- Gastrointestinal discomfort (constipation, heavy digestion, and abdominal pain)
Severe Electrolyte Deficiency
- Mental confusion
- Alteration of blood pressure
- Numbness of fingers and toes
- General weakness and shortness of breath
- Irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias)
- Slow heartbeat (bradycardia)
- Myocardial infarction
These imbalances will be frequent in individuals with chronic diseases, such as diabetes or kidney disease. These pathologies predispose to suffer from deficiencies or excesses of certain electrolytes and require a thorough medical check-up. Healthy people can also be affected if they are exposed to the following conditions:
- Vomiting or Diarrhea: Infections, seasonal viruses, and any other entity that causes the loss of fluids and electrolytes through the gastrointestinal tract increase the risk of electrolyte imbalances.
- Inadequate Diets: Diets rich in junk food and poor in fresh food provide excessive levels of sodium and low concentrations of potassium. Remember that excess sodium predisposes to diseases such as hypertension.
- Dehydration: In general, the body of a healthy person will be able to maintain electrolyte balance even if no liquids are ingested for hours. However, if hydration is reduced sharply or factors that worsen dehydration are added (e.g. doing sports in the sun on a hot day), ionic changes will appear.
- Inadequate Intake of Fluids: Have you ever wondered why we cannot drink seawater? Taking liquids with an excess of certain electrolytes will cause an imbalance in the levels of these particles in our bodies.
- “miraculous” Weight Loss Diets: Extreme diets provide very few calories to achieve significant weight loss in record time. However, this type of regimen could provide an insufficient amount of electrolytes which will cause medium to short term imbalance.
- Aging: The body loses the ability to regulate the electrolyte balance as we age, predisposing an alteration of the levels of these particles.
Wounds and injuries: Wounds, especially those of greater extension, create destruction of the mechanisms of the body barrier (skin and mucous membranes), predisposing to dehydration and hydro electrolytic alterations.
- Alcohol Abuse: Alcohol is a substance that predisposes to dehydration and, with it, to the loss of important electrolytes.
Can I Replenish Electrolytes Through Food?
A balanced diet should be able to provide us with all the electrolytes we need to lead healthy lives. Unfortunately, the western diet is very rich in sodium (present in precooked and fast food) and low in potassium and magnesium (abundant in fresh fruit and vegetables not from intensive agriculture).
We can find sources of calcium in milk and its derivatives, such as cheese and yogurt. These products also contain sodium, chloride, and iodine.
Magnesium and potassium abound in green vegetables such as spinach. In addition, red meat, fish, seafood, and legumes are also important sources of electrolytes such as phosphorus.
If you want to replace electrolyte losses with food, you will need to eat as healthy as possible, including fresh produce, lean meats, and dairy products if you are not vegan or vegetarian.
Who Can Benefit from Electrolyte Supplements?
Lack of time, stress, and some diets prevent proper nutrition, predisposing to electrolyte imbalance. Although this alteration will not immediately produce symptoms in most individuals, exposure to extreme temperatures or the beginning of sporting activity can trigger a picture of fatigue, dizziness, and cramps.
Diseases also affect electrolyte loss. The resulting imbalance leads to the appearance of additional symptoms that make recovery difficult. So those who eat incorrectly and are healthy, as well as those who are sick, can benefit from the use of an electrolyte supplement, especially if they belong to the groups described in the following list:
- People who train for periods longer than an hour (for example those who train for the marathon);
- People who sweat a lot when they train hard (like crossfitter);
- Who gets sick losing large quantities of fluids (vomiting and diarrhea);
- People exposed to high temperatures for long periods of time (individuals who train or work in the sun in the summer months or in the hottest hours).
How Many Types of Electrolyte Supplements Are There?
Electrolyte supplements can be found in different formats. We have drinks, gels, capsules, and powders for smoothies or to be dissolved in water, all with different nutritional values. These preparations may also contain carbohydrates and vitamins. In the following list you can consult the main formats available:
- Beverages – without a doubt, this is the most well-known electrolyte supplement format. Beverages with electrolytes supply water and essential particles, such as sodium, potassium, or magnesium.
- Gel – this innovative format facilitates the transport of the electrolytic supplement, which makes it an excellent ally for athletes who cannot carry numerous bottles with electrolytic drinks. If you use these gels, remember that you will still need to drink water separately.
- Powder – although this format is more popular with those who use protein supplements, electrolytic preparations can also be found in powder form. It is true that they require longer preparation and mixing times, but they can be kept for a longer period of time and dosed in a more personalized way.
- Capsules – people who have no difficulty in swallowing pills can find in capsules with electrolytes an effective, convenient, and easy to store solution. Being less popular than previous formats, they are more difficult to find on the market.
- Effervescent Tablets – this format combines the advantages of the integration of electrolytic drinks with the ease of transport and storage of the capsules. Simply deposit one of these tablets in a glass of water to enjoy a freshly prepared electrolyte drink.
How Do You Take an Electrolyte Supplement?
In principle, electrolytic supplements are designed to be taken on demand during exercise. In a high-intensity workout or that lasts for more than an hour, it is recommended to anticipate the appearance of thirst or dehydration symptoms and to use the electrolyte supplement during and after the activity.
Remember that in the case of electrolyte supplements, water is a vital component when it comes to exploiting these particles. If you have chosen a supplement in the form of a gel, capsule, or tablet, be sure to accompany it with an amount of water that contributes to the normal balance of fluids in the body (approximately similar to leaks).
What Precautions Should I Take to Consume Electrolytes?
Healthy people can use electrolyte supplements without suffering harmful effects, as long as they adhere to the recommended doses. However, some experts have expressed concerns about these products, based on the fact that the supply of electrolytes could inhibit the body’s intrinsic regulatory mechanisms.
For this reason, we advise you to choose an integration article that contains a concentration of electrolytes closer to that of the human body. In the case of sports drinks, between 285 and 295 milliosmoles per kilo.
The intake should be made in small doses for a reasonable period of time to avoid water overload. If despite these recommendations, too high a dose of electrolyte supplements are ingested, we may suffer from dehydration (since the body will try to balance electrolyte concentrations by eliminating excess through urine), vomiting (due to water overload ) and diarrhea (due to accumulation of particles in the digestive tract).
If you have any type of chronic disease (diabetes, hypertension or any type of kidney disease), you are a pregnant woman or are part of the group of people considered “vulnerable” (minors and elderly) your electrolyte control mechanisms may be more fragile.
A study by the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports found that runners taking supplements specially formulated to replace electrolyte losses ended the test about 26 minutes before athletes who consumed only sports drinks bought in supermarkets.