Comprehensive Facts on Electrolytes for Your Health
Electrolytes play unique roles in the human body. Maintaining body fluids and balancing acid to alkalinity (pH level) are some of the significant functions of electrolytes in the body. There are seven most common types of electrolytes in your body. For health body function, your body should have sufficient amounts of each electrolyte.
In this article, you will get comprehensive facts on electrolytes, how they function, cause of imbalances, and imbalance treatment.
What are Electrolytes?
Electrolytes are minerals that change into chemicals when they dissolve in body fluids. When dissolved, electrolytes produce electrical charges, both positive and negative ions. Electrolytes are vital chemicals for the entire body processes and metabolisms.
Overview of Electrolytes Functions
Electrolytes are responsible for automatic body functions. They regulate nerves and muscles to generate nerve impulses. Other electrolytes maintain the blood acidity to base level while balancing body fluids. Electrolytes also rebuild tissues that have been damaged by diseases.
List of Electrolytes
The following is a list of electrolytes in your body.
Your body needs balanced electrolytes to stay healthy. Just like a machine, your body should have electric current for automation processes such as the nervous system. The source of electrical current for your body is the electrolytes.
Electrolytes must have sufficient body fluids to process electric charge. The fluids are distributed and balanced in three compartments:
- Inside the cells
- Outside the cells
General Symptoms of Electrolytes Imbalance
All electrolytes imbalances have similar symptoms apart from a few additionals. Therefore, it may not be easy to know which electrolyte has an imbalance unless you take some tests. Here are electrolyte imbalance symptoms:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Irregular blood pressure
- Muscles cramping
Your nervous system uses electrolyte sodium to function. Your brain communicates with body cells by sending electrical signals or nerve impulses. Sodium electrolyte is essential in generating nerve impulses.Sodium electrolytes move across the nerve cells' membranes to change electrical charges, which initiate nerve impulses.
Electrolyte sodium also regulates normal fluid levels. The fluid levels in the blood cells adjust according to the amount of sodium electrolyte in the body. The body expels or replaces sodium electrolytes in the cells to the right concentration through osmosis to keep the fluid levels balanced.
Sodium is located in the plasma of the blood around the cells while potassium electrolyte works inside the cells.
What is the Cause of Sodium Electrolyte Imbalance?
Cause of High Sodium Electrolyte (Hypernatremia)
Hypernatremia or high sodium electrolyte in the blood is a condition associated with dehydration. The electrolyte increases beyond the required level (145mEq/L – milliequivalents per liter). High sodium electrolyte can occur through excessive sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, or taking high-salt concentrated drinks.
Cause of Low Sodium Electrolyte (Hyponatremia)
Hyponatremia or low sodium electrolyte in the blood is a condition where sodium is lower than the required level (135mEq/L – milliequivalents per liter). In low sodium imbalance, the liquid level increases while sodium levels lower. With low sodium electrolyte, the kidney overworks trying to replenish the body with expelled salt.
Low sodium electrolyte can occur due to some health issues such as pneumonia, cancer, and kidney failure. Others causes of low sodium electrolyte are high fluid intake or the use of some medications.
What is the Treatment of Sodium Electrolyte Imbalance?
Treatment of High Sodium Electrolyte
High sodium electrolyte is a severe health issue which would require medical attention. However, you can arrest the situation before it becomes critical when you frequently feel thirsty. When you feel dehydrated, it means you are low on fluids and high on sodium. Drinking plenty of water can help balance the sodium level.
For severe high sodium electrolyte, it would be necessary to seek medical attention immediately. To identify the level of sodium in your blood, you need to have a blood test. If the results reveal extremely high sodium electrolyte level, your doctor can suggest IV hydration treatment. The process can quickly replenish water in your blood to the right level.
Treatment of Low Sodium Electrolyte
Before treating low sodium electrolyte, you must first find out the underlying cause of the condition to deal with it immediately. It can be some medications you are using or some health issue. Seek more clarification from your doctor on the two.
If you are on diuretic medications, your doctor may adjust the dosage to reduce the effect on low sodium electrolyte.
For average sodium loss, you should:
- Cut down fluids intake to try and balance sodium electrolytes.
- Eat a well-balanced diet,
- Boost your body's nutrients absorption and toxin excretion by using high-quality mineral tonics like Chi-Toni Mineral Formula
- Boost your sodium electrolytes by taking electrolyte-rich drinks especially after an exercise program. We recommend Essential Liquid Minerals
- Have IV (intravenous) infusion to increase sodium electrolyte
While sodium electrolytes are located outside the cells, potassium electrolytes are found inside the cells. Potassium electrolyte controls the effect of sodium in the body, especially for the heart. The electrolyte helps control blood pressure that might raise in case of sodium electrolyte imbalance.
Other functions of potassium electrolyte are to enhance muscle contractions by helping nerve impulses.The electrolyte moves your fluids and nutrients inside and outside body cells.
What is the Cause of Potassium Electrolyte Imbalance?
Cause of High Potassium Electrolyte (Hyperkalemia)
When testing for high potassium, there can be false results. The blood cells sometimes rupture and spill potassium in the blood. During that time, the test would reveal false high potassium electrolyte. It is, therefore, essential to have a repeat test while testing for potassium level in the blood.
The most common cause of high potassium electrolyte is chronic kidney disease or acute kidney failure. These two health conditions can happen when the kidneys fail to flush extra potassium from the blood. Other causes of high potassium electrolyte are excessive consumption of potassium diet or supplements, adrenal insufficiency, and Type 1 diabetes.
Cause of Low Potassium Electrolyte (Hypokalemia)
Low potassium can occur due to some health conditions such as adrenal gland disorders. Medication is another cause for imbalance such as diuretic and laxative. The drugs cause loss of potassium through excretion. Other causes of low potassium can be diarrhea and vomiting.
What is the Treatment of Potassium Electrolyte Imbalance?
Treatment of Low Potassium Electrolyte
If the cause of the imbalance is based on specific health issues, then the doctor would first have to deal with the disease.
Eating potassium-rich diet can boost the level of potassium electrolyte in your body. Some of the fruits rich in potassium are bananas, grapefruits, oranges, dates, raisins, and prunes. Foods rich in potassium are spinach, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, zucchini, pumpkins, cucumber, peas, eggplant, and other green leafy vegetables.
You can also boost your potassium electrolytes by taking potassium supplements. We recommend Potas.
Use supplements in frequent small doses with food. Avoid using a one-time big amount since it can irritate your digestive system.
Some herbs can increase potassium electrolyte level. They include nettle, alfalfa, coriander, dill weed, dandelion, parsley, turmeric, to name a few. We recommend high quality Potas.
Treatment of High Potassium Electrolyte
- Use of sodium bicarbonate to remove extra potassium through your digestive tract
- Change to a low potassium diet to lower your potassium level.
- Identify the health issues that might be causing the condition. Your doctor might require doing some tests on you to identify the root cause of your high potassium electrolyte.
- If it is the medication you are using, you should inform your doctor. The doctor may consider changing your medicine.
- The doctor might also prescribe some medicines to handle your high potassium electrolyte.
- Check on your diet to cut down on high potassium foods. Such foods include bananas, beef, nuts, apricots, milk, sweet potatoes, and others. You may need to consult a dietitian to give you a new eating plan.
- Treatment for the underlying health issues should start immediately
- We recommend Cal-Mag Plus
Common knowledge is that calcium strengthens bones and teeth. What you might not know is that the mineral has another significant role in its chemical form of electrolyte.
Calcium electrolyte helps in the contraction of the muscles. The muscle's fibers overlap one another for shortening the muscles to contract. On the other hand, it is the role of magnesium electrolyte to help the muscles fibers spread out and relax after contracting.
Causes of Calcium Electrolyte Imbalance
Just like any other electrolyte, your body can have low or high calcium electrolyte. According to one abstract on electrolyte calcium disorders, a healthy person has serum calcium concentration level between 8 and 10 mg/DL. However, due to some unhealthy issues, the levels can either dip down or rise higher than the required concentration.
Causes of Calcium electrolyte deficiency (hypocalcemia)
- Diet low in calcium
- Hormonal disorders
- Disorder in calcium metabolism
- Medication such as diuretic
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Magnesium deficiency
- Body demanding more calcium electrolytes than it is getting especially during pregnancy
Causes of High Calcium electrolyte (hypercalcemia)
- Hyperparathyroidism or overactive parathyroid
- Medication such as diuretics, thiazide, and lithium
What is the Treatment of Calcium Electrolyte Imbalance?
Treating Calcium Electrolyte Deficiency
One of the most effective ways of treating calcium electrolyte deficiency is increasing your calcium intake through your diet. You can also use some calcium supplements to boost your calcium level. However, get the right dose to avoid other health complications such as kidney stones.
Before using calcium supplements, inform your pharmacist or your doctor if there are any other medications you are taking. Some medicines can have some adverse effects on your health when you combine them with calcium supplements. Such as:
- Blood pressure medication
- Some antibiotics
Another way to treat low calcium is through Intravenous (IV) with calcium gluconate. Your doctor can suggest the treatment in a severe case.
Treatment High Calcium Electrolyte Concentration
In a severe condition of high calcium electrolyte, the initial treatment should begin with hydrating to bring down the calcium. More tests should be done to determine the underlying cause of high calcium electrolyte. You might also share with your doctor your medical history for immediate treatment. Your doctor will then recommend or prescribe proper medication according to the test results.
In extremely severe case, your doctor may recommend hospitalization for emergency treatment. If the test proves that the cause is overactive parathyroid glands, surgery may be necessary. Your doctor would then seek your consent for the operation in removing the affected tissue. Pro surgery procedures start to get you ready for surgery.
Chloride is an essential electrolyte in your body. Chloride comes from the salt you consume in your food. Your Himalayan salt, which is the source of sodium, is a combination of sodium and chloride.
Chloride electrolyte has many functions in the body, such as:
- Managing the level of body fluids in and out of the body cells
- Maintaining electrical neutrality and balancing pH level in the blood
- Electrolyte chloride is what pathologists use while assessing any underlying pathological
- health issue in the body
- An imbalance in chloride level is a reason enough that there are severe metabolic disorders. The disorders could be metabolic alkalosis or acidosis and other organ health issues
When using chloride for various tests, samples should come from serum, sweat, urine, and excretion.
Causes of Chloride Electrolyte Imbalance
Chloride imbalance can either be low or high. There are causes and treatment for both imbalances.
Cause of Low Chloride Electrolyte
One of the functions for Kidneys is to regulate chloride electrolyte level in the blood. Malfunctioning of the kidneys can lead to low chloride electrolytes. Other causes are:
- Dysfunction of endocrine
- Dysfunction of the hormone system
- Medication such as diuretics, laxatives, and corticosteroids
- Blood pH level rising higher than required
- Severe vomiting and diarrhea
- Chronic lung health condition
- Chemotherapy side effects
Cause of High Chloride Electrolyte (Hyperchloremia)
Only infants can have hyperchloremia and cause no alarm since it is healthy and normal at their age. For children and adults with high chloride level, it is a severe health condition. Some of the issues that can trigger chloride electrolyte levels to rise above average include:
- High level of sodium which causes chloride to increase as well
- High intake of sodium chloride of table salt
- Dehydration due to health issues such as vomiting, diarrhea, and high fever causing sweating
- Medications such as diuretics and hormonal medicines
Treatment of Chloride Electrolyte Imbalance
Both low and high chloride electrolyte have different kinds of therapies since they have varying health conditions.
Treatment of Low Chloride Electrolyte (Hypochloremia)
If you have a mild case of low chloride electrolyte, add a little bit of Himalayan salt with sodium chloride to your diet to increase the level.
For a severe case, the initial step is to find out what is causing low chloride electrolyte. Then treatment for the underlying cause would start immediately to arrest the situation. You may need a saline solution intravenous (IV) procedure to increase sodium electrolyte level.
Get regular testing of chloride electrolyte level in your body and doctor to follow up while monitoring your condition.
You can eat chloride-rich foods to boost your chloride level. The diet should include tomatoes, celery, seaweed, lettuce, and olives.
Treatment of High Chloride Electrolyte (Hyperchloremia)
The initial procedure forhigh chloride treatment is to identify the underlying health issue. Your doctor might find it necessary to deal with the disease urgently. Other procedures for high chloride electrolyte treatment include:
- Changing medication or dose if the cause is the medication you are using
- Lowering chloride electrolyte by using intravenous fluids
- Drink a lot of water to dilute chloride in the body
Phosphate is useful in building and repairing of bones and teeth. Therefore, the most significant share of phosphate, which is 85 percent, is contained in the bones.
The rest of electrolyte phosphate is contained inside cells to produce energy and to help the functioning of the nerves. Phosphate is also useful in building cell membranes and assisting in the production of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).
While phosphates and calcium have almost similar roles in the body, they react differently with one another. When the level of phosphate goes high, the level of calcium shoots down and vice versa.
What Causes of Phosphate Electrolyte Imbalance?
Causes of Low Phosphate in the Body
- Medical conditions such as kidney disorder and diabetes
- Insufficient Vitamin D that helps to absorb phosphate in the body
- Parathyroid hormone disorder
- Inherited health conditions
- Prolonged use of medications such as diuretics, antacids, and others
Causes of High Phosphate in the Body
- Kidney disorder failing to expel extra phosphate
- Parathyroid hormone disorder
- Medical conditions such as diabetes
- Muscle damage and other injuries
- High vitamin D levels
- Cells damage
How to Treat Phosphate Imbalance
Treatment of Low Phosphate Imbalance
- Eat foods rich in phosphorus minerals such as milk and other dairy products
- Boost your phosphate by using supplements
- If low Vitamin D is the cause, boost it by using supplements
- Treat underlying medical conditions affecting low phosphate
- In severe low phosphate, your doctor may suggest intravenous for phosphate
- We recommend high-quality mineral tonics like Chi-Toni Mineral Formula to aid in the absorption of nutrients and flushing toxins
Treatment of High Phosphate Imbalance
- Reduce high phosphate foods such as milk, dairy products, red meat
- Balance phosphorus with protein by taking foods such as chicken, fish, beans, nuts, and eggs
- Your doctor can prescribe some drugs to stop phosphate absorption
- In severe cases, your doctor can suggest dialysis to remove high phosphate content
Magnesium electrolyte is useful in various body metabolisms such as food, glucose and insulin, fatty acids, DNA synthesis, bone, enzymes activities, and nerve impulses transmission. It also helps to spread out smooth muscles fibers to relax after contracting by assisting signals in conduction from the nerves to the muscles.
Magnesium has an essential role in the transportation of calcium, oxygen, sodium, and potassium all over the cells in the human body.
Magnesium helps in restoring cognitive function and reversing brain plasticity loss, especially in age-related memory loss.
What Causes Magnesium Electrolyte Imbalance?
Causes of Magnesium Electrolyte Deficiency
- Low intake of magnesium diet
- High-intensity exercises with a lot of sweat loss
- Diseases such as diabetes mellitus
- Medications such as a diuretic, proton pump inhibitors
- Poor magnesium absorption in the intestines
Cause of High Magnesium Electrolyte
- Kidney dysfunction that fails to regulate magnesium level
- Liver health condition
- Adrenal insufficiency
- Medication such as lithium
- Using drugs with magnesium such as Milk of Magnesia, antacids, and laxatives
What is the Treatment of Magnesium Electrolyte Imbalance?
Treatment of Magnesium Electrolyte Deficiency
Take magnesium supplements orally for quick results. Increase high magnesium diet with foods such as spinach, broccoli, peanuts, cashew nuts, salmon, bananas, avocado, and others
Treatment of High Magnesium Electrolyte
- Identifying what is causing high magnesium electrolyte should be the first step to arrest the condition quickly
- Use calcium supplements to reduce high magnesium effects such as irregular heartbeat or impaired breathing
- In a severe case, intravenous for calcium or diuretics to help the body flush out extra magnesium
- In extensive case and especially for one with the renal condition, dialysis may be conducted
Bicarbonate is another electrolyte that plays various significant roles in the human body. One of its primary uses is to neutralize acids in your body. Together with sodium, potassium, and chloride electrolytes, bicarbonate electrolyte helps to maintain electrical neutrality in the cells.
Bicarbonate electrolyte is a buffering system that prevents acidity in the body fluids and, therefore, regulates pH level in the blood. The electrolyte is also essential and often the best for improving muscles performance during activities by counterbalancing build-up acids in the muscles.
What Causes Bicarbonate Electrolyte Imbalance?
Causes of Low Bicarbonate Electrolyte (Acidosis)
Unhealthy kidneys are the leading cause of low bicarbonate. When in that health condition, your kidneys fail to balance bicarbonate levels. The kidneys either fail to eliminate enough acids or they flush out too much bicarbonate (base). On the other hand, low bicarbonate electrolyte can worsen any kidney disease. Other causes for low bicarbonate electrolyte are:
- Chronic use of alcohol
- A diet that is high in fat and low in carbohydrates
- Health conditions such as diabetes
- Medications such as aspirin
What Causes High Bicarbonate Electrolyte (Alkalosis)?
High loss of acid from the body or base (alkalinity) increase due to:
- Use of some medications such as diuretics, antacids, or laxatives
- Ingestion of bicarbonate baking soda
- Sudden loss of sodium or potassium
- High usage of alcohol
What is the Treatment for Bicarbonate Electrolyte Imbalance?
Treatment for Low Bicarbonate Electrolyte (Acidosis)
- Taking sodium bicarbonate orally to raise pH levels in the blood to balance state
- Treating the underlying health condition (Seek a Professional)
- If the problem is kidneys, your doctor might suggest immediate treatment with sodium citrate
- For lactic acidosis, alternative treatment would be bicarbonate supplement
- Avoid taking alcohol
- Drink plenty of non-acidic drinks
- Lactic acidosis (lactic build-up) is a health condition related to low bicarbonate. The use of bicarbonate supplements can eliminate the disease.
Treatment for High Bicarbonate Electrolyte (Alkalosis)
- Boost your sodium or potassium or whatever chemical that is low in your body
- Your doctor might change your medication to try and lower alkalosis
- Reduce taking soda, coffee, tea, and other caffeine-based drinks
FAQs (Frequent Asked Questions)
What is the most common electrolyte imbalance?
Low blood sodium is the most common imbalance of all the electrolytes. The most likely cause for the imbalance is kidney health condition such as acute renal disease.
Is high calcium a sign of cancer?
Hypercalcemia or high calcium might be a sign of many other health conditions. But, the most feared health condition of all is cancer. Several cancers,such as leukemia or bone-related cancer,are related to high calcium. Both of these cancers can also cause excess calcium release into the blood.
Is taking too much electrolyte drink harmful?
It is not harmful if you take the right amount with proper intervals. When you are in low electrolytes, you can boost your levels by taking electrolyte drinks. Electrolytes are the source of a healthy life and have to be at the right concentration.
Can electrolyte imbalance cause seizures?
One of the symptoms of electrolyte imbalance is seizures. Electrolyte imbalance will at first manifest itself with neurological disorders such as seizures.
What is the effect of low bicarbonate imbalance?
Low bicarbonate electrolyte imbalance in your blood can manifest as too much acid or metabolic acidosis. Such an effect can cause other complications such as respiratory failure, organs dysfunction, or kidney failure. Critical acidosis can lead to shock and even death.
Your body cells depend on electrolytes for proper functioning. It can only happen when you achieve your entire-body's nourishment. At Island Healthworks, we believe good health starts with healthy cellular respiration. Also, you can maintain good health by having a proper flow of fluids all over body cell membranes through osmosis.
For high maintenance of sufficient sodium and potassium electrolytes levels, high-quality mineral tonics like Chi-Toni Mineral Formula can be used to enhance fluid movement. The tonic can also boost nutrient absorption into the cells while flushing out toxins.
It is essential to eat organic foods, herbs, and supplements to maintain good health. To prevent food-related diseases, Island Healthworks will recommend only high Quality Controlled Herbs and Supplements for your wellness.
Editor: Yvonne Dollard Perc
Research Assistant: Elizabeth Njuguna
Designer: Sherry Robb
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