Best Electrolyte Drink


By Fritz Mequiabas, RN,  BSN
Best electrolyte drink


Electrolytes are mineral ions that help with fluid balance, blood pH, muscle function and nerve processes.

Whenever we sweat, both water and electrolytes are excreted. The electrolytes are what gives sweat its salty taste.

When re-hydrating, it is important to replace lost electrolytes as well as water in order to avoid symptoms caused by electrolyte imbalance. Sports drinks are the most common thing used for re-hydration by athletes or those who sweat a lot on the job. However, most of these fall short in electrolyte replacement

The best electrolyte drink should contain at least chloride, magnesium, potassium and sodium. Besides these, what about trace mineral electrolytes that are lost through sweat? Though only needed in trace amounts, they are also important.


The Need for Rehydrating the Body

How electrolytes are lost

Electrolytes are lost due to prolonged sweating, diarrhea, vomiting, nutrient malabsorption, hormonal and endocrine disorders, kidney disease, chemotherapy or an inadequate diet.

However, most individuals lose these essential electrolytes because of their active lifestyle. Daily exercise or participating in sports can provide numerous benefits to the body. However, if we aren't careful, it can also cause us to lose important electrolytes.

Drinking water can quench our thirst and minimize dehydration, but how will we replace lost electrolytes?

  • Isotonic dehydration - there is a similar amount of water and sodium lost in the body

  • Hypotonic dehydration - there is a greater amount of sodium lost than water

It's important to find the best electrolyte drink for the body.


Symptoms

Symptoms for these two types of dehydration are somewhat similar, in that a person will experience:

  • Thirst

  • Light headedness

  • General discomfort

  • Fatigue

  • Irritability

  • Decreased urine output

Though symptoms may be similar,  in hypotonic dehydration cells are shrinking and cerebral edema is most likely to develop.


Rehydrating

In either of these types of hydration, it is important to replace electrolytes in order to prevent the above complications from happening.

Re-hydration of the best drink form should include a complete electrolyte solution to meet the needs of the body.

When taken over time, cells and tissues will be replenished and normal electrical impulses will be revived.


How Effective Are Sports Drinks

Loaded with sugar

Many belief that the best way to rehydrate the body is through sports drinks like Gatorade, Poweraid, Endurox R-4 or others.

Convenience is one of the reasons why a lot of individuals drink sports drinks which are not the best drinks for electrolytes. Besides this, they are heavily advertised, and widely available in grocery stores.

Though these sports drinks contain two or three essential electrolytes, most of them are loaded with sugar. For instance,

  • Gatorade has 100 calories and 28 grams of sugar

  • Poweraid has 34 grams of sugar.

  • Endurox R-4 has 360 calories and 69 grams of sugar.

This is significant, since high sugar content alone can contribute towards health concerns, including diabetes, weight gain and the damage of tooth enamel.

Adding to the health concern are the preservatives, artificial colors, artificial flavors and artificial sweeteners that many sports drinks contain.


A lack of key electrolytes

Most sports beverages do not contain a balanced amount of electrolytes, therefore they are not the best form of electrolyte drinks available. Most of them offer sodium and potassium, but not magnesium, phosphorus or trace mineral electrolytes.

Electrolytes function together and balance each other out, ensuring that the metabolic reactions are continuously taking place. But relying on sports drinks for rehydration may be detrimental, since they only supply 2 or 3 of the electrolytes.


The Importance of Electrolytes

Important functions of chloride

Chloride is one of the major electrolytes in the body. It works together with potassium and sodium for the conduction of electrical impulses.

It is a negative ion. Amazingly this one element represents 0.15% of the total body weight.

  • The negative charge of this mineral is very important, as it is needed to neutralize the positive charges of potassium and sodium ions, which are necessary for serum osmolarity.

  • Chloride naturally combines with hydrogen in order to make the powerful digestive enzyme called hydrochloric acid. This compound is responsible for breaking down proteins, metallic minerals and even enhancing B12 absorption.

  • When chloride is in the stomach, it will be transported in the gastric lumen to exchange with bicarbonate and maintain the electrical neutrality of that membrane.

  • Remaining chloride is used in the blood stream for extracellular fluid volume.

  • Chloride is important for many metabolic demands. With its constant exchange in red blood cells and plasma, it helps to maintain pH and aid the electrical impulses of the body.

Important functions of magnesium

Magnesium is needed in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body and is an amazing thing to include into the best kind of electrolyte drink.

This positively charged electrolyte serves a number of functions, including:

  • Energy metabolism

  • Glucose utilization

  • Fatty acid synthesis and breakdown

  • Protein synthesis

  • Muscle contraction

Without magnesium, it would be impossible to have a normal sodium-potassium ATPase pump and calcium homeostasis.

This mineral is important in DNA processing, especially in eliminating damages brought about by environmental mutagens.

Furthermore, all components in connective tissues like collagen, proteoglycans, elastin and glycoproteins are dependent on magnesium. Thus, a deficiency of magnesium can have a major effect on these bodily processes.

When we lose body fluids, we lose magnesium. Why is this important electrolyte not included in popular sports rehydration drinks?

A major deficiency of magnesium can actually be fatal, as it can accelerate atherosclerosis, asthma, psychiatric and neurological illnesses.


Important functions of potassium

Potassium is an essential electrolyte that is important for:

  • Nerve impulses
  • Muscle contraction
  • Blood pressure regulation
  • Numerous other functions


Although it works synergistically with sodium, it also plays an important role for fluid level regulation and helping to maintain the acid-base balance in tissues and blood.

  • It assists the nervous system in its normal impulses
  • It ensures that there is proper oxygenation in the brain
  • It is needed for the sodium-potassium pump


A deficiency of potassium makes muscle contractions and a regulated heartbeat difficult to achieve.

  • Potassium is essential in cellular biochemical processes and energy metabolism.
  • Potassium helps convert glucose to glycogen and use it as a source of energy.
  • It is involved in protein synthesis, carbohydrate metabolism and glucose and glycogen metabolism.


Fortunately, most energy drinks do contain potassium.


Important functions of sodium

Sodium plays a vital role for muscle and nerve function. It is a major electrolyte for maintaining fluid levels in the body.

This electrolyte is the major salt in sweat. When there is a deficiency we are prone to develop weakness and muscle cramps.

Sodium is a positive ion, working together with potassium to create an electrochemical gradient and to ensure that there is proper:

  • Nerve impulse transmission
  • Heart function
  • Muscle contraction
  • Transport of metabolites and nutrients in the cells


The uptake and re-uptake of sodium in the small intestine is necessary for the absorption of amino acids, glucose, water and chloride.

Because it has a major role in maintaining normal fluid levels in blood plasma and between cells, the amount of sodium in the body can affect an individual’s blood pressure and volume of blood.

If there are changes in blood pressure, the circulatory system will immediately send signals to the nervous system in an effort to control the excretion of sodium.

In other words, a retention of sodium is also a retention of water; the loss of sodium can result in water loss as well.


Importance of trace mineral electrolytes

Trace minerals don’t receive the same attention as the macro minerals, yet they may play a key role in health and longevity.

Dr. Maynard Murray spent many years researching the role of trace minerals in disease prevention. His ground breaking research found that there was zero disease in animals living in the middle of the ocean.

He believed the primary reason was the availability to them of the full buffet of elemental minerals which are naturally found in the ocean.

He did extensive research which contributes to the understanding that trace minerals are extremely important to health and to having the best kind of electrolyte drink available.

Unfortunately, with the advent of chemical fertilizers in the 1940’s, our soils have become quite deplete of most trace minerals. This makes it almost impossible to get needed trace minerals in the foods we eat.

When our bodies don’t have the needed trace minerals to start with and then we sweat and lose even more, it makes it doubly important to replace these trace mineral electrolytes.

The ocean may be the best source for these trace electrolytes.


The Perfect Re-hydration Mix

To rehydrate, we need water and electrolytes.

Some researchers also believe we need a little sugar for the best absorption of electrolytes.

Here is a home-made re-hydration drink that may meet all of these needs.

  • 1 teaspoon of Ionic Sea Minerals

  • 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt (optional, for added sodium that may be needed to prevent muscle cramps caused by excessive sweating)

  • Lemonade mix or lemon juice and sweetener

  • 1 liter of water


Sea minerals contain Chlorine, Magnesium, Potassium, Sodium and a whole host of trace mineral electrolytes.

Ionic Sea Minerals by itself has 90 mg. of sodium, which may be enough for many people.

Magnesium and potassium have a bitter taste. However, adding lemon flavor to the mix is a wonderful way to enjoy this homemade electrolyte drink.

In a taste test, Crystal Light Pure scored the highest. Plus it is all natural. But of course, each person is free to experiment to find the flavoring they like best.

The benefit of a sea mineral electrolyte product is that it is wholesome. No preservatives, nothing artificial, and no chemical ingredients.


Responding to extreme dehydration

If dehydration includes exposure to direct sunlight, lie down in a cool or shady place and prop up your feet.

Extra clothes should be taken off to allow our skin to cool down. Once comfortably in place, drink at least 2 liters of rehydration solution over the next four hours.

Drinking a re-hydration solution can help to relieve the symptoms of dehydration. However, complete replacement of lost fluids may take between 24 to 48 hours.

During that time, continue to drink a re-hydration solution until you feel adequately hydrated and dehydration symptoms have vanished.


Conclusion, best electrolyte drink

Dehydration is a common health concern. It may get worse if not treated promptly, but it can be quickly remedied when the best electrolyte drink is utilized.

An electrolyte drink should contain chlorine, magnesium, potassium, sodium and trace mineral electrolytes. 

(Return from Best Electrolyte Drink to What is an Electrolyte)

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