Electrolytes are minerals that conduct electricity when dissolved in water. They’re
distributed through the fluid in your body and use their electrical energy to
facilitate important bodily functions. Electrolytes are essential for

  •  Controlling your fluid balance.
  •  Regulating your blood pressure.
  •  Helping your muscles contract — including your heart.
  •  Maintaining the correct acidity of your blood (pH).

Common electrolytes include sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium and
calcium. Electrolyte waters are enhanced with these charged minerals, but the
concentrations vary.

As an essential mineral, an electrolyte cannot be substituted by any other
nutrient in the diet. That means that your body will only accept that particular
mineral or electrolyte.

Without electrolytes, you could not move, think, or live. Within the body,
electrolytes are dissolved in body fluids. In terms of hydration, electrolytes are
responsible for directing water (and nutrients) to the areas of the body where it’s
needed most and maintaining optimal fluid balance inside the cells. Besides
maintaining fluid balance, electrolytes help your muscles to contract and relax
and assist in the transmission of nerve impulses from your nervous system to
different body parts.

Dehydration has several negative impacts on athletic performance, and perhaps
you’ve even experienced extreme consequences such as muscle cramps and
fatigue. But even if you don’t feel a difference, only 2% dehydration can result in a
decrease in performance or fatigue.

Electrolytes play an important role in keeping your body hydrated. The most
common electrolytes are sodium and potassium, and these help maintain fluid
and electrical balance in the body. Potassium helps with muscle contractions and
heart function, and sodium is important for maintaining fluid balance. Both of
these are lost in sweat but can usually be replaced by eating foods such as
bananas, salted nuts, yogurt, or trail mix. Unless you are exercising in hot
temperatures, humid or dry climates, or are working at higher intensity for longer
than 60 minutes, sports drinks are typically not required to keep electrolyte levels
balanced.

By Saloni Sethi