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August 07, 2020 3 min read

What are electrolytes, and are they important? 

This is a common question we receive when it comes to training and preparing for a ride, race or activity. In short, the answer is YES, They are important. Very important.

An electrolyte is a substance of combined minerals that conducts electricity when dissolved in water. They are essential for a number of bodily functions and we are going to break them down. 

All humans need electrolytes to survive. Many automatic processes in the body rely on a small electric current to function, and electrolytes provide this charge. Electrolytes interact with each other, and the cells in the tissues, nerves, and muscles. A balance of different electrolytes is vital for healthy function. 

What are Electrolytes?

Simply put, electrolytes are minerals that the body relies on through the fluid inside, outside and between cells.

The electrolytes included in the human body are:

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

Minerals and Electrolytes – What Are They and How to Get Enough ...

Ideally, you would maintain balanced electrolytes for your muscles through proper Sodium, Potassium, magnesium and calcium intake so your muscles can properly contract.  Majority of these electrolytes are consumed through your dietary nutrition or daily intake of food, however if you are active you may want to consider a supporting supplement like PNG’s Electrolytes Balanced Hydration Mix. If there is an imbalance in the electrolytes you may experience weakness, excessive contraction (cramping) or twitching.

Symptoms of Electrolyte imbalance:

Depending on the balance of electrolytes or imbalance, a harmful concentration of magnesium, sodium, potassium or calcium can produce the following symptoms:

  • Dehydration
  • Weakness
  • Twitching
  • Muscle cramps 
  • Excessive fatigue

An imbalance doesn’t only refer to a lack or undersupply, but it also refers to over supply. You may hear people talk about salt tablets or other electrolyte supplements. Here is some truth.

If you have excessive spikes in your sodium or chloride levels at any time, it too, can overwhelm the body’s complex mechanism for regulating sodium and work in a negative manner, causing you to be more dehydrated, or increase in thirst during activity leading to over retention of water, bloating or swelling.

Creating Balance is key for sustainability. 

The Primary Electrolytes and Their Role

Although your body is comprised of many electrolytes, the primary minerals we add to sports drinks, drink mixes and supplements are: Sodium, Potassium and Magnesium. Each play a vital yet supportive role, lets take a look.

Sodium:

Plays a key role in water retention and absorption of nutrients into the bodies gut, while assisting with cognitive function, nerve transmission and muscle contraction and fatigue. The more we sweat, technically the more sodium loss occurs from the body. Though important, astudy from stanford shows the recommended daily intake of sodium is 2,300mg.

Potassium:

This mineral is a key partner to sodium in electric charge formed. Potassium also key for retention, but more importantly assist with storage of carbohydrates to fuel your muscles, increase energy and endurance levels as well as regulate muscle cramping. Most studies recommend to consume between 4500mg and 5200mg daily.Canadian Academy of Sports Nutrition provides a detailed list of foods that are rich in potassium.

Magnesium: 

Studies show that50% of people in the US are deficient in magnesium. Thats said, it also boast a variety of performance benefits such as facilitating blood sugar to your muscles, dispose of lactate or lactic acid build up, leading to performance gains. 


Why do Athletes drink electrolytes?

Whether you are a high level athlete, an enthusiast or simply active living, you are likely burning sodium and potassium through sweat. Prior to activity, consider consuming an electrolyte drink like Electrolytes Balanced Hydration Drink Mix  to help prevent your body from running through the stored surplus and feeling weak or cramping during your activity.

Creating sustainable bodily fluids and balanced electrolyte levels are essential for hydration and performance, this is how we came up with our formula. 

So, why do athletes drink electrolytes? To maintain sustainable levels of hydration and balanced electrolytes during output, and prevent cramping, weakness, fatigue, dehydration or performance loss.

THE BOTTOM LINE

It is vital to maintain a balance of electrolytes and your body does this well, but when active it needs assistance. Consider a formula that works for you.


If you are feeling sick, nauseous or dizzy, consider seeing your doctor.


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