Are You Getting Enough “iums”

By Ann Poorboy

Electrolytes

Before we heard of Gatorade and electrolytes, my mom would make sure I had enough of my ‘iums.’ At the time she was referring primarily to sodium and calcium, but as I learned about nutrition over the years, I saw the powerful impact of magnesium, potassium, and even capsicum as part of my diet. I’ve always had abundant energy in a sea of people complaining they’re tired all the time. I think electrolyte deficiencies have a lot to do with that.

It wasn’t long ago that my husband asked me when as a society we became so dehydrated that we all needed to carry large water bottles with us every where we go. I believe that dehydration is only part of the problem. I believe the missing piece are the electrolytes.

For example, of all the hangover remedies out there, only electrolytes can actual replace what you lost the night before. You see, while you were happily downing cocktails the night before, your body began to lose electrolytes making you dehydrated. Now cramps, shakes, and an insane thirst are just a few of your symptoms and you need them to go away ASAP! Electrolytes get the job done with a heaping dose of sodium, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Learn how these key electrolytes work to get your body functioning again. Without them, you could develop hypoatremia.

Hyponatremia is an electrolyte imbalance that can cause symptoms such as: [i]

  • Digestive issues like nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness and instability
  • Muscle weakness
  • Trouble concentrating and confusion
  • Low energy, lethargy, and fatigue— even if you’ve slept enough
  • Mood changes and increased irritability
  • Muscle pains, spasms, or cramps
  • In the elderly, injuries, and gait disturbances due to instability and weakness
  • In severe cases when the condition isn’t treated, brain swelling, seizures. and possibly coma or death can occur

Sodium:

Sodium is an electrolyte in and of itself, and consuming healthy sources of sodium helps provide even more of the electrolytes that are absolutely essential to good health. [ii] Sodium works hand in hand with potassium, calcium, and magnesium to keep electrolyte levels balanced, which is vital for runners and athletes.

Basically, water hearts sodium. Water in the body travels wherever sodium travels. So, your post hangover body will really appreciate a big dose of electrolyte water packed with sodium to quench your thirst and rehydrate fast.

Some of the health benefits of sodium include: fluid balance, muscle contraction, nerve transmission, and improved athletic performance.

Sodium may get a bad rap, but the truth is that it’s vital for the body. Yes, too much sodium poses serious risks, but low sodium is just as dangerous. 

Magnesium:

Waking up in the middle of the night with a cramped leg is the worst feeling ever. Magnesium may help ease cramping.

The following health benefits have been associated with magnesium.

  • Bone health. Magnesium is important for bone formation. …
  • Calcium absorption. Calcium and magnesium are important for maintaining bone health and preventing osteoporosis. …
  • Diabetes
  • Heart health
  • Migraine headaches
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Anxiety relief

The symptoms of magnesium deficiency are usually subtle unless your levels become severely low.Deficiency may cause fatigue, muscle cramps, mental problems, irregular heartbeat and osteoporosis.

Potassium:

Low potassium levels could be the reason why you’re feeling the shakes curled up in a fetal position when you’re dehydrated.

Potassium supports blood pressure, cardiovascular health, bone strength, and muscle strength. Beet greens, white beans, soy beans, and lima beans are the foods highest in potassium. Potassium deficiency can lead to fatigue, weakness, and constipation.

If you are on potassium sparing drugs, please talk to your doctor about your electrolyte levels.

Calcium:

Aside from giving us strong bones, calcium can help the metabolic process when you’re hungover. The best electrolyte drinks –like Orange Electrolit– have 20 mg of calcium that make it easier for you body to do its work right.

Your body needs calcium to build and maintain strong bones. Your heart, muscles and nerves also need calcium to function properly. Some studies suggest that calcium, along with vitamin D, may have benefits beyond bone health: perhaps protecting against cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Capsaisin/Capsicum: Not Technically an Electrolyte

Capsicum is technically a spice usually found in the hotter peppers. But it’s amazing health benefits make it an essential part of your nutrient make-up.

With the varieties of chili peppers available, it is important to know that the capsaicin content of each type of chili pepper varies and it is possible to get less heat and still receive the health benefits of the chili peppers’ active ingredient capsaicin. Capsaicin is found in the fleshy membrane of both sweet and hot peppers and in higher concentration in the seeds. This natural fruit may be used fresh or dried as a culinary spice, added to teas or taken in capsules to reap its medicinal benefits. These benefit include it’s anti-inflammatory properties, treating some gastrointestinal disorders, and it’s anti-cancer properties to name a few. A research study published in Anticancer Research 2016 stated that capsaicin, an active component of capsicum, has shown to change the genetic expression related to cancer cell survival, growth arrest, and metastasis. [iii]

[i] https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000394.htm

[ii] https://www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eating/stories/the-truth-about-sea-salt

[iii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26976969

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