Electrolyte Imbalance: Prevention and Cures

Electrolytes are nutrients (sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride) that help your brain and muscles communicate by electrical signals.

Electrolytes and water are like a recipe: you need the right balance of each. An electrolyte imbalance is when you have either a surplus of electrolytes or a surplus of water, with respect to the other.

Not Enough Electrolytes

Flickr user Peter Mooney
Flickr user Peter Mooney

1) Losing Electrolytes

Your body can lose electrolytes and create an electrolyte imbalance when it is under conditions of stress or heavy activity. For example, participants in hot yoga can lose 3 pounds or more of sweat during the session. A pound of sweat can contain about 500 mg of sodium. (Hence why sweat tastes salty.) Heavy sweating can deplete stores of water but also key electrolytes. When one rehydrates with water, the electrolytes must also be replaced. Otherwise, it will lead to a condition of low electrolytes.

Airplane travel and desert environments, because of their very low humidity, are conditions that can also cause one to sweat more than one realizes, and lose electrolytes.  Additionally, hot working environments or industrial settings can increase perspiration. Separately, a body can also lose electrolytes from alcohol-induced dehydration by excessive urination, or from sicknesses that cause diarrhea or vomiting.

Symptoms: headaches, fatigue

Cures + Remedies: Water with a Brode Electrolyte Vitamin, or an Oral Rehydration Drink

2) Low Electrolyte Diets

Flickr user Sammy JayJay
Flickr user Sammy JayJay

People who prepare most of their own foods from scratch and try to eat very healthy are at risk for unintentionally having a low-electrolyte diet. The founder of Brode Electrolyte Vitamin, Marc Brodeur, experienced this personally. As he began to prepare more of his own food and move away from prepared foods, he was forced to become more conscious of actively adding electrolytes (often in the form of salt) to his diet. This is because prepared foods often have too much sodium, so we never think of it as a critical nutrient, which it is. We are taught that it is unhealthy to add salt to one’s food, but this is only because processed foods often come over salted in the first place. When one prepares their own food, it is critical to add electrolytes, often by salting.

Symptoms: persistent low blood pressure, low energy

Cures + Remedies: In the morning or afternoon, take two Brode Electrolyte Vitamin tablets with a big glass of water. Do you cook most of your own food? Consider adding extra salt to your meals.

Too Much Electrolytes

1) High Electrolyte Diets

Fast food high electrolyte

In the diets of industrialized countries, High electrolyte diets are more common than low-electrolyte diets. This is because prepared foods typically include bountiful sodium. People with high blood pressure are encouraged to limit their sodium. This is because your body tries to maintain a balance between electrolytes (sodium) with water. So extra sodium in your body means that your body will retain extra water, raising blood pressure.

Your body regulates your water according to electrolytes levels, so if you have an electrolyte imbalance with high electrolytes, you will likely feel thirsty, as your body wants more water to balance out the electrolytes. But this is not a permanent solution, because it will lead to high blood pressure. If one has excess electrolytes, it is important to lower electrolyte (typically sodium) intake until levels lower.

Symptoms: high blood pressure, often thirsty

Cures + Remedies: Cut down on latent sodium in the diet by reducing intake of high-sodium processed foods.

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