To supplement our article Electrolyte tablets for Hydration, we have created this FAQ about Electrolytes.

What are electrolytes and why do I need them?

Electrolytes are vital for normal functioning of the human body. Electrolytes include sodium, potassium, calcium and bicarbonate. We need these in order to maintain the proper concentrations of these ions in and outside cells in the body. It is crucial for transmitting electrical impulses along nerves and for muscle contraction. They allow us to perform all the functions such as moving, heart-beating, thinking, and seeing. All forms of life need electrolytes to survive.


What are some foods with electrolytes?

As said above, foods that contain potassium, sodium, magnesium and calcium are foods rich in electrolytes. Foods in terms of sodium include nuts, butter, salted meats, cold nuts and table salt. Sources for potassium include bananas, baked potatoes with skin, plums, prunes, oranges, orange juice and cooked spinach. Foods containing magnesium include bran cereal, shredded wheat, brown rice, milk, bananas, spinach and lima beans. Finally sources of calcium include cheese, milk, yogurt, sardines, oysters and hazelnuts. Overall fresh fruits and vegetables are rich in electrolytes.


How are electrolytes lost with diarrhoea?

Water and electrolytes are lost when vomiting, which is a symptom of diarrhoea, and water is additionally lost with a fever. Electrolytes are lost in general through sweating.


What are some drinks with electrolytes?

Typical drinks that contain electrolytes include orange juice, lemon juice and apple juice.


What is electrolyte imbalance?

This type of imbalance occurs when you do not have the right balance of electrolytes whether that is less or more magnesium than needed, less or more sodium, less or more potassium and less or more calcium than needed. This may produce one or more of symptoms such as irregular heartbeat, weakness, twitching, blood pressure changes, weakness, bone disorders, confusion, seizures, fatigue and muscle spasm.


What are the causes of electrolyte imbalance?

Simple causes of electrolyte imbalance include:

  • Kidney disease

  • Vomiting

  • Severe dehydration

  • Heat waves

  • Acid/base imbalance

  • Heart Failure

  • Cancer Treatment


What electrolytes are lost with vomiting?

Constant vomiting leads to extreme loss of water and electrolytes from the body which can have drastic consequences. Electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, bicarbonates and chloride ions are crucial to normal bodily functions. As water is lost during vomiting, the delicate and good balance of electrolytes is changed.


How does each electrolyte contribute to the body?

  • Calcium helps with nerve signalling, blood clotting, cell division and maintaining bones and teeth.

  • Potassium keeps blood pressure level stable and regulates heart contractions, helps with muscle functions.

  • Magnesium is required for muscle contractions, good heart rhythms, nerve functioning, bone-building and strength, reducing anxiety, digestion and keeping a stable protein-fluid balance.

  • Sodium helps ensure a good liquid and fluid balance, muscle contractions also like potassium and magnesium and also with nerve signalling like calcium.