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What Are Electrolytes And What Causes Electrolyte Imbalance In The Body

Electrolytes are substances or salt which by dissolving in fluid turn into ions – positive (cations) and negative (anions). In our body is found in blood, urine and body fluids. Maintaining the right balance helps maintain the chemical processes in the body, muscle and other body processes. Sodium (Na ), calcium (Ca ), potassium (K ), magnesium (Mg2 ), chlorine (Cl-), hydrogen phosphate (HPO42-) and bicarbonate (HCO3-), they are electrolytes found in the body .

These particles, with an electric charge are needed to maintain all higher forms of life. Their function is in implementation and proper exchange of electrical signals into and out of cells. These important nutrients our body is supplied through consumption of food and beverages. But, should be noted that not only important intake of electrolytes, also and their balance in the body, which is achieved by proper diet and healthy lifestyle.


The role of electrolytes and their balance have great importance for human body. They regulate the balance of fluids in your body, pH value of blood, the function of muscles and nerves. Also important for hormonal balance, enzymatic reactions, the utilization of glucose, bone mass, digestive tract, blood pressure, and building and regeneration of tissues.

Our body is supplied by consuming food and beverages rich in electrolytes. Their level in the body is regulated by the hormones of the kidneys and adrenal glands.

Each electrolyte has own a role in the organism.

Sodium (Na +)

Sodium is responsible for the regulation of fluids in the body. He is essential to maintain the function of the muscle and nerves, absorption of glucose, amino acids and certain vitamins.

Sodium can be found in salt for cooking, vegetables, fruits and grains.

Potassium (K +)

Unlike sodium who located outside of cells, this is electrolyte that is the major cation in the cells. They are indispensable for the functioning of the heart, muscle and kidney.

Potassium encourages detoxification and helps in regulating the pH of the blood and urine. He regulates blood pressure, stiffness of joints, headache and participates in degradation and utilization of carbohydrates.

Most present is in avocado, banana, orange, apricot, white beans, tomatoes, Swiss chard and spinach, but also in other fruits and vegetables.

Magnesium (Mg +)

Magnesium is responsible for the balance of body fluids, and functionality of muscles and nerves. It strengthens immune system, heart, regulate blood sugar and maintain healthy bones and teeth.

Can serve as prevention in occurrence of kidney stones, helps in the regeneration of the liver, maintain health of the pancreas stimulates digestion and relieves headache.

Some of the best sources of magnesium are Integral cereals, nuts, green leafy vegetables, legumes, coffee, tea, cocoa, raisins, bananas, carrots and parsley.

Calcium (Ca ++)

Calcium is one of the most important and most common mineral in the human body. He is responsible for health of bones and teeth, and for the prevention osteoporosis. Also helps in keeping the health of the heart, nerves and muscles.

He is necessary for normal blood clotting, as well as conducting impulses in the nervous system. He relieves pain in muscles and ankles, and helps in the prevention of allergies, depression and PMS. Also, is important for the positive influence of certain bodily hormones and enzymes.

Calcium can be found in milk and dairy products, marine algae, nuts (almonds and hazelnuts). Also is found in fruits such as oranges, bananas, dried figs, and in vegetables such as broccoli, beans, peas, spinach, parsley and lentils.

Chlorine (Cl-)

This negative anion maintains balance and pH value of body fluids. His task is a regulating digestion and maintaining healthy muscles and nerves.

Source of chlorine is salt and unprocessed natural food.

Hydrogen phosphate (HP04-)

The largest amounts of phosphates are present in the bones (85%); rest of them is in the cells. He is an essential for the process of the formation of bones and teeth. It’s significant for energy production of the body, growth and tissue regeneration, as well as the work of the muscular and nervous system.

This anion can be found in foods rich in protein such as: cheese, milk powder, the integral grain flour and cocoa.

Hydrogen carbonate (HCO3-)

His role is to maintain the pH balance, whose negative changes can lead to unwanted health problem. Regulates digestion, relieves fatigue, headache, and slows the aging process.


Electrolyte imbalances often occur due to disturbances in concentration of calcium, sodium and potassium ions. The disturbance of the remaining electrolytes is a smaller problem, but if there is it results of an imbalance of mentioned three electrolytes.

Besides improper intake of nutrients, electrolyte imbalance can to lead certain conditions, such as dehydration or increased hydration, increased sweating, vomiting and diarrhea.

Sometimes drugs can cause unbalance of electrolytes, for example diuretics. Lengthy and exhausting diets may also cause imbalance. Increase sweating especially lead to losing sodium chloride. Therefore is important to care for entering them in the organism, especially during the high summer temperatures and increased physical activity.

Symptoms of negative concentration of the electrolyte in the body include:

  • Cramps and muscle weakness
  • Problems with the digestive system: bloating, constipation, diarrhea
  • Nervous system disorders
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Tiredness
  • Rapid or slow heartbeat
  • Breathing problems
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of concentration and disorientation
  • Unconsciousness


Hypokalemia is a shortage of potassium caused by insufficient intake or increased fluid loss (diarrhea, vomiting) or kidney disease.

Symptoms are weakness, fatigue, cramps in your muscles and stomach. Also, activity of the body is slower, digestion disorders, slow heartbeat, and elevated blood pressure.

Hyponatremia is a lowering of sodium concentration in the body, and is most commonly is result of fluid retention in the body.

Symptoms include fatigue, headache, nausea, vomiting, weakness, muscle cramps, disorientation, restlessness and poor appetite. Also include symptoms for disturbance of attention, breathing and the walking.

In more severe cases of hyponatremia may cause fainting, coma and death.

Hypocalcemia is a lack of calcium. Not enough intake, impaired absorption or increased excretion of this mineral, may result with hypocalcemia.

Symptoms of calcium deficiency are weakness and muscle cramps, tingling of the fingers, a weakened appetite, convulsions, lethargy, irregular heartbeat, respiratory problems.


Hyperkalemia is an elevated concentration of potassium, due to excessive intake of this mineral. Especially in the case of impaired kidneys function that in normal cases are responsible for elimination of excess potassium.

Some drugs also acting on kidneys, lead to increase potassium concentration, such as diuretics and blood pressure drugs. Symptoms are tiredness, tingling, weakness.

Hypernatremia is an increased level of sodium, due to insufficient water intake into the body, increased fluid excretion, intake of hypertensive fluid, and some diseases such as Cushing’s syndrome.

Symptoms are manifested through general weakness, lethargy and the appearance of edema.

Hypercalcemia is an elevated level of calcium in the body. This disorder can be due to excessive calcium intake, due to increased activity of the parathyroid gland. Also is often occurs as a side effect of certain diseases.

Symptoms include lethargy, lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, digestive disorders, headache, drowsiness, frequent urination, low blood pressure, and irregular heartbeats.


If you eat properly balance food you have no reason to worry about the concentration of electrolytes in the body. Products who daily will find their place in your diet and containing sufficient amounts of electrolytes are:

  • Vegetables: Swiss chard, spinach, broccoli, beans, peas, potatoes, tomato, pepper, fresh and pickled cabbage, beet, carrot, parsley, celery.
  • Fruits: Orange, banana, prunes and apricots, peaches, nectarines, cantaloupe, watermelon, avocado, pineapple, raisins.
  • Cereals
  • Nuts: Indian walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts.
  • Seeds: Sesame, sunflower.
  • Milk and dairy products
  • Mushrooms
  • Marine algae
  • Coffee, tea, cocoa
  • Iodized salt for cooking
  • Mineral water


In case of increases losses of electrolytes, it’s important to compensate for their lack. Today a popular way for hydration and recovery of electrolytes in the body, is consuming isotonic drinks. Because of their impact regularly they use athletes, physical workers and people with special nutritional needs.

But, these drinks have their own negative side. They are packed with sugars, artificial colors and various other harmful ingredients.

Quality solutions for compensation and maintaining electrolyte, restoring energy, and strengthening the body, are preparations from your own kitchen. Best if the ingredients are from organic origin.

Fastest first aid can be a glass of water in which will add half a tablespoon iodized salt, or a special electrolyte solution who can be found in pharmacies.

Note: This information is solely for informational purposes. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

Thanks for reading!