Minerals, vitamins, fats, and proteins are just some of the nutrients that the body needs in order to function properly. However, there’s one item that most people know little about, and that’s electrolytes.
From its name, electrolytes are electrically charged minerals responsible for regulating the amount of water in the body. Other than regulating fluids, electrolytes are also responsible for:
- Supporting blood clotting
- Development of new tissues
- Maintaining a balanced pH level of the blood
- Transmitting nerve signals
- Electrically stimulating muscle contractions that keep your heart beating
There are various types of electrolytes, and these include phosphate, sodium, magnesium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, bicarbonate, and chloride. They need to exist in the body within a certain range, otherwise, an electrolyte imbalance can occur.
However, you can easily become electrolyte-deficient, especially when you’re sick with vomiting and diarrhea or you’ve just finished an intense workout. Severe electrolyte imbalance can result in twitches, muscle cramps, heart arrhythmia, lethargy, paralysis, and in worst cases, death by cardiac arrest.
The Amount of Electrolytes You Need
You don’t want to ignore electrolyte deficiency, so when the signs of magnesium deficiency or an imbalance of any other electrolyte minerals are starting to show, replenishing your body with the right amount of electrolytes is critical. But how do you know if you’re having too much or too little electrolytes?
Here’s a recommended daily allowance of 5 of the most common electrolytes for adults.
- Sodium: Less than 2,300mg
- Calcium: 1,000mg
- Magnesium: 400 to 420mg for men, 310 to 320mg for women
- Potassium: 3,400mg for men, 2,600mg for women
- Phosphorus: 700mg
Adding Electrolytes To Your Diet
For most people, electrolytes are easily replaced with a normal diet. In fact, most people consume too much chloride and sodium that electrolytes are not a critical problem for most.
However, if you tend to have an intense workout routine, sweat like crazy, or if you’re recently recovering from episodes of diarrhea, then here are some foods that are rich in electrolytes that can help you out.
1. Hydrate With Coconut Water
In recent years, coconut water became a very trendy beverage and a refreshing alternative to bottled water.
Unlike tasteless water, Coconut water offers a slightly sweet flavor with a subtle nutty aftertaste. It’s packed with several nutrients and a cup of unsweetened coconut water contains at least 350mg of potassium—a type of electrolyte.
2. Consume Dairy Products
Dairy products are foods produced from the milk of mammals like sheep, cattle, and goats. This also includes butter, yogurt, and ice cream.
Milk and dairy products are famous for their high calcium and sodium content. In fact, a 100ml milk offers about 281mg of potassium and 199mg of calcium. If you want more, parmesan cheese has about 26.1mg of sodium and 336mg of calcium.
3. Snack on Nuts and Seeds
Seeds and nuts are good sources of healthy fats, protein, fibers, vitamins, and electrolyte-enriched minerals.
From Almonds, Cashews, Peanuts, to Sunflower seeds and Flax seeds— you can get enough phosphorus and magnesium from nibbling on these. Chia seeds, in particular, can absorb up to 10 times their weight in water. This makes it a powerful hydrator and a nutritious source of electrolyte-enriched minerals.
Other than merely nibbling or munching on nuts and seeds, you can also mix them into your smoothie or drink or sprinkle them on toast or oatmeal. That’s a great way to pack up your meals with high levels of electrolytes.
4. Feast on Leafy Greens
Leafy green veggies such as Kale, Spinach, and Beet Greens are a must-have for a healthy diet. It’s no different in terms of upping your electrolyte intake.
These lush green veggies are enriched in magnesium and potassium and contain healthy carbs that you need in order to better absorb these minerals. So, make sure to stock up on all the leafy greens you can find and work them into your favorite salad recipes or even leafy green pizzas.
5. Try a Bone Broth
Bone broth is the result of simmering the connective tissue and bones of animals. This highly nutritious stock is often used in sauces, soups, and gravies. However, you can also have it as a healthy drink.
There’s a reason why broth-based soups are often served to sick people. The slow simmer process is key to extracting the electrolytes and released into the water in a form in which the body can easily absorb.
Sipping on bone broth can easily replenish your lost electrolytes, especially when recovering after a sickness. Chicken bone broth, in particular, contains good amounts of chloride, phosphorus, sodium, and potassium.
6. Enjoy Your Fruits
Fruits are great sources of electrolytes. And you have several options:
- Bananas: Bananas are perhaps the most abundant source of electrolytes, thanks to their high potassium levels. A single banana tends to have 422mg of potassium which is about 16% of your daily value.
- Watermelon: Like banana, watermelon is also a potassium-rich snack that’s also hydrating and refreshing. It’s abundant during the summer season. Try sprinkling some salt on top to get extra electrolytes from sodium while enhancing its natural flavor.
- Avocados: Avocados are some of the healthiest fruits you can find. And they’re also great for upping your magnesium and potassium intake. They are tasty enough to be eaten plain, but they can also be added to your favorite salad or toast bread.
- Oranges: Each slice of fruity Orange is loaded with water, magnesium, calcium, and potassium that hydrates the body and boosts electrolytes. Other fruits you can try include lemonade, mangoes, berries, cherries, and apples. You can eat them as is, blend them into yummy smoothies or enjoy a cold fruity drink.
Lastly, you need to increase your fluid intake. Water is still the best way to make up for the lost electrolytes and fluids after sweating or sickness. Always aim for 8 glasses of water a day to ensure that your electrolytes are within a good range.
You can also have sports drinks or electrolyte-enriched drinks to quickly replenish your electrolytes, especially during or after a workout.
Electrolytes are critical for keeping the body in optimal condition. But for them to work, you must take in enough sources of electrolytes each day. By planning a nutrient-packed diet, you can replenish any lost electrolytes and maintain a healthy and balanced body. Just make sure to add the food and drinks mentioned above.