What are some ways to get electrolytes and maintain electrolyte balance?
Electrolytes are a combination of water and essential minerals such as potassium, magnesium, sodium, and calcium. Your body needs them to regulate muscle and nerve functions and maintain blood pressure and acidity levels.
Electrolytes are depleted through dehydration caused by sweating, diarrhea, or vomiting. When depleted, electrolytes need to be replenished.
(Learn more about Electrolytes: What They Are And Why They Matter For On-The-Job Hydration.)
Where to Get Electrolytes
A variety of everyday foods contain essential electrolytes. Through a healthy, balanced diet, you can easily maintain electrolyte levels in your body. Here are some of the best sources of electrolytes for your system.
- Dairy products and green-leaf vegetables are excellent sources of calcium
- Table salt is a common source of chloride
- Cheese, salt, and pickles contain sodium
- Nuts and seeds offer magnesium
- Avocado, sweet potatoes, and bananas provide a good source of potassium
They can also be replenished with specially formulated drinks that contain electrolytes. In a busy work environment, this is often the best option to ensure optimal hydration (and worker health and safety.)
Maintaining Electrolyte Balance
Electrolyte imbalance, specifically the loss of electrolytes, can cause symptoms like fatigue, headaches, muscle cramping, numbness, heartbeat irregularities, and convulsions.
Even though issues related to electrolytes are often associated with athletes, workers performing physical labor and older adults are particularly susceptible to electrolyte imbalance. (Read more in The 4 Unexpected Working Environments That Lead to Dehydration.)
Here are some best practices to help ensure a healthy electrolyte balance:
- Drink plenty of water
- Avoid beverages that are diuretics like caffeine and alcohol that draw water from your body
- Eat foods that contain electrolytes
- Do not eliminate salt from your diet
- When selecting a beverage other than water, look to those with a moderate amount of sodium and potassium
- Monitor your urine, especially before working out (clear urine is a good sign of electrolyte balance)
- Consume an electrolyte beverage (especially if you do intense physical work or work under high heat conditions)
It is important to note that electrolyte imbalance may not just be a matter of nutrition and could be the result of serious medical issues like kidney disease or congestive heart failure. Seek medical advice if any symptoms are prolonged and do not subside with rehydration and proper diet.
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