Electrolytes are minerals (micronutrients= the microscopic nutrients found in our food); think back to the Periodic Table with all those cool letters. We are made up of those elements and need them to function. The common ones include the gases that make up our atmosphere and us, including oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen. Other really important ones are the electrolyte minerals: sodium, calcium, potassium, chloride, phosphate, and magnesium. These minerals can be found in the carbohydrates that we consume, specifically the nutrient dense vegetables.
source: Real Salt from The Great Salt Lake in UT and Artichokes
function: Helps to maintain ‘normal’ blood pressure and a player in the sodium potassium pump, which keeps fluids balanced inside and outside of the cell, while also helping with muscle contractions (see potassium for more details).
sources: Kale- check out my kale salad recipe here
function: Forms our bones and teeth with the help of Vitamin D… so make sure to get your 20 minutes of sun each day.
sources: Sweet Potato and Navy Beans
function: A key nutrient in the Sodium-Potassium Pump which maintains the cellular electrical charge across the cell wall, which powers muscle contractions, including the heart.
sources: Olives and Celery
function: Aides in digestion, by activating the pepsin enzyme to initiate the breakdown of proteins to amino acids. Amino acids have many functions in the body beyond just muscle building, for example the amino acid tryptophan is a precursor for serotonin and melatonin, the neurotransmitters used to help regulate sleep and mood.
sources: Pumpkin Seeds and Broccoli
function: This mineral is used in the formation and breakdown of bone along side calcium. It is also part of the backbone for the ATP molecule, which is in charge of creating energy in our bodies.
sources: Almonds, Avocados, and Dark Leafy Greens
function: Magnesium is a cofactor in over 300 biochemical reactions inside the body. It supports the immune, cardiovascular, and skeletal systems. It also helps with the regulation of blood glucose, energy metabolism, and protein production.
So whether you are going out for a long run and need to recharge, or you get the stomach bug and need to recover, or you are just trying to stay well hydrated, choosing nutrient dense foods along with your water will go a long way.