Updated: Oct 21
Yes, and no. So I guess this is another one of our standard answers: It depends. Our body is made up of about 70% water, so it's pretty clear that water is important. As with everything in our body, there is a delicate balance, drink too much water and you'll deplete your electrolytes by simply flushing out the sodium, magnesium, calcium and potassium that you worked so hard to get into your system. Or wait, maybe you didn't have to work hard to get those things, you got them from your avocado, bananas, spinach, nuts, shellfish, brown rice, potatoes, yogurt, pumpkin seeds, kiwi, and all of the other yummy foods you've eaten so far today. Ok, deep breath, if you didn't eat any of those foods today or even in the last week, it's ok, we're here to help! The thing is, it can be difficult to get the proper balance of minerals and electrolytes in our day to day because we're often eating a small variety of foods on a regular basis. We're creatures of habit and we tend to reach for the same things day in and day out. Add on a pot of coffee and a cocktail or two and it's a good chance we're pretty depleted.
Why do we need electrolytes?
Electrolytes are essential minerals that are needed for basic chemical reactions within our body. When our electrolytes are out of balance, we can have minor or major symptoms like, extreme fatigue, dehydration, confusion, muscle cramps, dizziness, numbness or nerve tingling. Magnesium is connected with over 300 coenzyme systems that are responsible for reactions in your body. For example, magnesium aids in muscle and nerve function and is also required for energy production. Low levels of magnesium can impact sleep and certain types of magnesuim can keep your bowels moving comfortably. Potassium helps with nerve sensation and response and muscle contraction. Your heart is a muscle, you definitely want to make sure your potassium levels are in check so your heart muscle can function properly, right? Calcium - we all hear about calcium for our bones and teeth but did you know it's also required for muscles to move and for nerves to send messages to and from your brain? Sodium is a big one that we hear about often. Usually, we hear that we have too much sodium in our foods, that we need to cut down the amount we take in for heart health, but did you know that too little sodium isn't a good thing, either? Sodium is necessary in muscle contraction and relaxation and helps us maintain proper hydration levels. You'll notice that all of the electrolyte beverages on the market contain sodium and there's a good reason for it: ever noticed when you sweat it tastes salty?? We lose sodium and other electrolytes though challenging workouts, sweat sessions and even sleeping! The crazy thing about all of this is that none of these minerals function separately, they all react and respond relative to what the others are doing. Craving salt? Check to see if your potassium levels are too low, it's possible that you're not absorbing the salt you're taking in because it's partner potassium isn't available to help! And low magnesium can also have a direct impact on how your body utilizes its calcium stores.
So, while you drink more water AND try to eat a rainbow of vitamin and mineral rich foods, you can always help yourself out by adding a little electrolyte boost to at least one of you daily bottles of water. Since the whole electrolyte thing is getting super trendy in the wellness world, it also means it's super confusing. There are a few supplements that we really like and there are a few that have excellent marketing but you're probably better staying away from! Be aware of the amount of sugar in your beverage - one of the most popular "hydration" drinks out there is so filled with sugar that they made a sugar free version and filled with chemicals instead!
So we try to stay away from things filled with sugar, but why? They're more likely to leave you with an upset stomach and a sugar high, followed by a huge low rather than the hydration you were looking for. Plus, the huge spike in blood sugar isn't good for us, more on that in another blog. And yes, these rules apply to children, too. So before you reach for the most popular thirst quencher on the market, check the sugar on the label. Also, be sure to read the label for things that say "sugar free" because it may be filled with artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols, which also tend to upset stomachs. (For me sugar alcohols = gas pains.)
Here are some hydration options with ingredients we do like: LMNT , ATH , Drink Simple, Buoy Electrolyte Drops, Nuun, Cymbiotica Pure Hydration, Bubs Naturals (maybe too much sugar in this last one, so choose it if you’re out running, biking and really need the extra calories for energy).
And note just a note for the sensitive, if something says it has monk fruit extract and or stevia in it … it’s likely to be extra sweet! They aren't technically sugar but both of those things are an added sweetener and for some reason, product companies aim for sweet. And well... that's a story for another post, to...
Drink up and.... enjoy!