What are electrolytes?
Electrolytes are essential minerals that conduct electricity and carry a positive or negative charges in water. Their electrical charges contribute to vital physiological functions within the body.
The common types of electrolytes in the body include sodium, potassium, calcium, chloride, magnesium, and phosphorus. They are found in nearly every cell and fluid in the body. We get electrolytes through food and drink that we consume and lose them through sweating and urinating.
One of the key roles of electrolytes is keeping the proper balance of fluids in the body. Potassium and sodium are the electrolytes greatly involved in maintaining adequate hydration, which is vital to properly synthesize ATP, a molecule that provides energy for the cells. Calcium and magnesium also play essential roles in ATP production. When electrolyte levels in your body become unbalanced, you may start to notice a difference in your energy levels.
So, can electrolytes give you energy?
As noted above, electrolytes themselves can't give you energy, but your body needs them to convert the stored energy in food into usable energy called ATP.
Calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium are the main electrolytes involved in energy production. Let's take a closer look at how each one supports healthy energy levels.
Cellular respiration relies on numerous enzymes to generate ATP. Many of these enzymes are activated by calcium. Without sufficient calcium in the body, these enzymes may struggle to activate and produce energy. Low levels of calcium may also lead to muscle cramps or muscle spasms.
Cofactors activate enzymes in cellular respiration. Your body requires magnesium to synthesize MgATP2, a complex that is needed to activate specific enzymes in ATP production. Magnesium also controls messaging along calcium and potassium channels, which impact energy metabolism. Insufficient magnesium may lead to irregular heartbeats and impaired nerve function.
Sodium is crucial for maintaining the proper balance of fluids in the body, indirectly supporting energy production. Adequate fluid balance ensures that cells are hydrated and can efficiently transport nutrients and waste products. Sodium also plays a vital role in nerve function and muscle contractions, facilitating the transmission of electrical signals between cells. That's why when levels of sodium in your body are too low, you may start to feel sluggish and tired.
Potassium and sodium work inversely to maintain balance in our cells; potassium is also critical for proper heart function. It regulates the heartbeat and ensures smooth muscle contractions. Additionally, potassium is essential for converting glucose to glycogen, which can be stored in the liver and muscles for future energy use. Like sodium, potassium also plays a vital role in transmitting electrical impulses between cells, ensuring efficient communication, especially in muscle and nerve cells. Insufficient levels of potassium may result in dizziness, muscle weakness, muscle twitches and, in severe cases, heart problems.
How do electrolytes affect your energy levels?
Electrolytes play various functions in the body on top of their important role in the process of energy production. Some of the signicant benefits of electrolytes in the body that can also affect your energy levels include the following:
Supports Nerve Function
Potassium and sodium play a vital role in ensuring your brain cells are able to communicate. Thus, an electrolyte imbalance can impact the efficiency of nerve transmission, which is crucial for reflexes, sensory perception, and motor functions. Proper nerve function is not only essential for cognitive processes but also for the body's ability to perform physical activities. An efficient nervous system can improve muscle coordination and stamina, thereby increasing energy levels.
Promotes Restful Sleep
Electrolytes, primarily magnesium and calcium, are key players in ensuring a good night's sleep. Magnesium helps calm the nervous system and works with calcium to regulate melatonin, a hormone responsible for regulating the body's sleep-wake cycle.
You may not know it, but hormones play a significant role in your energy levels. Electrolytes help to regulate some hormones in the body, including adrenaline, cortisol, and antidiuretic hormone. Sodium plays pivotal role in regulating hormones, thus sodium deficiency may lead to a hormonal imbalance.
Without a sufficient supply of sodium, your cortisol levels may become elevated, leading to a condition known as adrenal fatigue. On the other hand, excess of antidiuretic, adrenaline and noradrenaline hormone can impair your ability to get a restful sleep. After a rough night with poor sleep, you'd likely feel weak and sluggish.
Maintains Proper Hydration
Proper hydration is beyond just drinking plenty of water. The body also needs adequate electrolyte intake to efficiently retain the right amount of water to support healthy cellular function.
You're likely to experience confusion, fatigue, headache and more other symptoms if you're dehydrated. These symptoms can significantly impact your energy level, but they can be avoided by electrolyte supplementation and of course eating a balanced and healthy diet.
Does drinking electrolytes give you energy?
Maintaining healthy electrolyte levels is especially important for endurance athletes, pregnant women, people who have outdoor jobs, or those with certain medical conditions.
One of the best and most convenient ways to boost levels of electrolytes in the body is by consuming electrolyte supplements. Unfortunately, a lot of electrolyte products out there are loaded with sugar. While sugar itself is not inherently a bad thing, it's the "added sugar" that you may want to avoid to prevent unpleasant health issues.
The average electrolyte drink contains approximately 150 calories and 40 to 50 grams of sugar in just one bottle. The Dietary guidelines for Americans recommends that we should consume less than 10% of calorie intake from added sugars, so sugar-sweetened beverages like Gatoride for example could make it difficult to follow this recommendation.
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