Minerals like sodium, potassium, and magnesium are electrolytes. They’re found in tissue, blood, and other bodily fluids, and they’re essential for nerve and muscle function, blood pressure control, and hydration. Some beverages are naturally high in electrolytes, while others require special electrolyte formulation.
Electrolytes are compounds that have an electrical charge and are referred to as electrolytes. Electrolytes provide a small electric current that is needed for many bodily functions.
A diet of electrolyte-rich foods and beverages can help most people maintain a balanced electrolyte balance. Others, such as high-performing athletes and those who are ill and dehydrated, may need assistance. Electrolytes are abundant in many beverages, including those that can be made at home.
In this article, we’ll define electrolytes, list electrolyte-rich beverages, and include recipes for electrolyte-rich drinks that people can make at home.
Chemicals that have an electric charge when dissolved in water are referred to as electrolytes. It refers to minerals that play an important role in the body in terms of nutrition. Tissue, blood, urine, and other bodily fluids contain electrolytes. They are as follows:
Some beverages contain electrolytes naturally, while others contain electrolyte-infused drinks. The following are six electrolyte-rich beverages:
Milk from cow
Electrolytes, such as calcium, sodium, and potassium, are abundant in cow’s milk.
According to the Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Studies (FNDDS) of the United States Department of Agriculture, 1 cup of daily whole cow’s milk provides:
- 300 milligrammes (mg) of calcium
- 92.7 mg of sodium
- 366 mg of potassium
Cow’s milk is also an excellent source of macronutrients. Cow’s milk is a simple post-workout electrolyte drink for people who exercise vigorously because of its combination of electrolytes and macronutrients.
Cow’s milk, on the other hand, might not be a good beverage for all. Lactose intolerance sufferers, for example, are usually unable to consume normal cow’s milk. A lactose-free version may be preferable.
Vegans often have no choice but to avoid animal-derived milk (cow or otherwise). Soy milk, almond milk, and oat milk are only a few of the dairy alternatives available. However, some evidence indicates that plant-based milks not only fail to provide equivalent amounts of vitamins and minerals, but that the vitamins and minerals in plant-based milks are often absorbed more slowly than those in cow’s milk.
Other types of electrolyte beverages could be more useful than plant-based milks for vegans looking for a post-workout beverage, or any beverage to help offset the electrolytes lost from intense and sustained sweating.
Magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus are all contained in fruit juices like orange juice, cherry juice, and watermelon juice. According to the FNDDS, a typical school bottle of 100 percent orange juice (124 grammes) provides:
- 13.6 mg of magnesium
- 221 mg of potassium
- 34.7 mg of phosphorus
Fruit juices are also an excellent source of antioxidants and vitamins. However, most fruit juices are high in sugar and low in sodium. The same orange juice bottle has just 2.48 mg of sodium but 10.3 g of sugar. Fruit juices are a good source of electrolytes, but they may not be the best beverage for replacing sodium lost by sweat.
Coconut water is a good source of potassium, calcium, sodium, and magnesium, among other electrolytes. According to the FNDDS, 240 g of unsweetened coconut water contains:
- 396 mg of potassium
- 16.8 mg of calcium
- 62.4 mg of sodium
- 14.4 mg of magnesium
Nutrient-added water beverages
Generally speaking, nutrient-added water beverages are low-calorie, low-sugar electrolyte drink choices.
Electrolyte-infused water beverages do not have the same sugar and calorie content as fruit juices and sports drinks, for example. Depending on the brand, they may also provide a more varied electrolyte mix.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that if a liquid uses the word “water” on its packaging, it must meet all safety standards and list all ingredients, including minerals, on the nutritional information label.
Sports drinks are electrolyte beverages that are widely available. Sports drinks, though common, have their own set of advantages and disadvantages.
Drinking sports drinks, for example, is a good way for endurance athletes to remain hydrated and replenish electrolytes lost by sweat. There are sugar-free options available, and some of them can help you feel more energised.
Sports drinks, on the other hand, typically contain more electrolytes than the average person requires. They are frequently high in sugar (a 360 millilitre serving of a sports drink can include 21 g of sugar).
Commercial electrolyte drinks, such as sports drinks, may be a good choice for athletes, but they may not be the best choice for the average consumer.
Electrolyte oral solutions
Another form of commercial electrolyte drink is oral electrolyte solutions. To help people recover from dehydration, manufacturers usually formulate these with the right mix of electrolytes and sugar. An 8-ounce serving of commercial oral electrolyte solution, for example, might contain:
- 244 mg of sodium
- 184 mg potassium
- 294 mg of chloride
Anecdotally, these types of beverages can be recommended for replenishing electrolytes in children who have diarrhoea or vomiting. They’re also a good choice for adults who are susceptible to dehydration.
How to do it yourself
People can make their own electrolyte drinks in a number of ways at home.
Tablets containing electrolytes
Adding an electrolyte tablet to water to make an electrolyte drink at home is easy. Electrolyte tablets can be found online and in a variety of health and wellness shops.
Smoothies made from fruits or vegetables are a simple and common way to replenish electrolytes at home. People should eat electrolyte-rich fruits and vegetables such as:
Oral rehydration recipe
Oral rehydration therapies may be made at home using popular household items. People can make an oral rehydration solution, for example, by combining the following ingredients:
- 1 liter of water
- 6 teaspoons (tsp) of sugar
- ½ tsp of salt
To maintain a healthy balance, most people need the following electrolyte quantities on a regular basis:
- Sodium: Maximum of 2,300 mg.
- Chloride: Roughly the same as sodium because most dietary chloride comes from salt.
- Potassium: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends 2,600 mg for adult females and 3,400 mg for adult males.
- Calcium: The NIH suggests 1,000 mg for people aged 19–50 years and males aged 51–70 years, and 1,200 mg for females aged 51 years and older and males aged 71 years and older.
- Phosphate: Adults aged 19 years and older require 700 mg.
- Magnesium: The NIH recommends 310 mg for females and 400 mg for males aged 19–30 years, and 320 mg for females and 420 mg for males aged 31 years and older.
Pregnant or breastfeeding women can need higher or lower quantities. Their doctor will advise them on how much to take.
An electrolyte imbalance occurs when the body’s electrolyte levels become too high or too low.
When the amount of water in the body varies, an electrolyte imbalance occurs. A body must usually take in as much fluid as it loses. The body can become dehydrated (too little water) or overhydrated (too much water) if the balance is disrupted (have too much water).
The water balance of a body can be affected by a number of factors, including:
- sweating excessively
- not eating or drinking enough
- medications including diuretics and laxatives
- vomiting and diarrhea
- kidney or heart problems
- congestive heart failure
In addition, electrolyte deficiency has been linked to a number of other medical conditions. A 2020 study, for example, found a connection between COVID-19 intensity and significantly lower sodium, potassium, and calcium levels.
When an electrolyte imbalance occurs, a person can experience a variety of symptoms, including shortness of breath, confusion, a rapid heart rate, or an irregular heartbeat.
If a person has serious symptoms such as convulsions, seizures, or sudden blood pressure changes, they should see a doctor. A doctor will decide whether the person has an electrolyte imbalance or another disorder, as well as the best treatment options.
How to maintain balance
An individual can usually supply the body with the required minerals to maintain a healthy electrolyte balance by eating a balanced diet that includes nutritious foods and beverages.
This means including electrolyte-rich fruits and vegetables in the diet, as well as other nutritious sources of basic minerals. It’s also important to stay hydrated during the day.
Those who exercise should keep track of their fluid intake. Longer and more intense workouts can necessitate more robust electrolyte drinks, while mild to moderate workouts can only necessitate water.
People who are having symptoms including diarrhoea or vomiting should monitor their fluid intake and suggest taking an oral electrolyte supplement to prevent dehydration.
Anyone who is having signs of an electrolyte deficiency should seek medical advice.
Advantages and disadvantages
Electrolyte drinks are not necessary for most people who eat a balanced diet and remain hydrated. However, they may help people with extreme diarrhoea or vomiting remain hydrated and preserve their electrolyte balance by providing a fast and easy way to replenish electrolytes lost via sweat.
However, if someone drinks electrolyte drinks on a regular basis, they can ingest more than is required, posing risks. This may lead to hypernatremia, hyperkalemia, or hypercalcemia, for example. This occur when a person’s blood contains too much sodium, potassium, or calcium.
Electrolytes are minerals that are necessary for a variety of bodily functions. Electrolytes are usually found in adequate amounts in people’s diets. An electrolyte-rich water, on the other hand, can be useful for athletes or people who are sick and at risk of dehydration.
Salt, sugar, and water can be combined to create an electrolyte-rich beverage at home. However, people should try to keep their electrolyte levels in check, as too much or too little can cause an imbalance, which can lead to health problems. Anyone who is concerned about their electrolyte level should seek medical advice.
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