MAY 28, 2016 04:54 PM PDT

Why You Need Electrolytes

WRITTEN BY: Julianne Chiaet
3 7 659

Electrolytes are ions that carry an electrical charge and travels in and out of cells. The most common types of electrolytes in your body are sodium, potassium, calcium, chloride, and magnesium.

Electrolytes trigger an event called action potential. Action potentials are the signals your brain transmits through neurons to parts of your body to contract the muscle. The principal ions involved in action potentials are sodium and potassium. As these two ions travel in and out of cells, the cells' charge switch back and forth from negative to positive. The switching process carries through the entire axon, out the axon terminals, and communicates with other neurons. The same process continues until the switching signal reaches the muscle fiber. Then calcium ions flood the muscle fiber, which causes the muscles to contract. If you don't have enough electrolytes, your muscle contractions are weaker and inefficient. You can get a lack of potassium from excessively drinking or throwing up. Dehydration can cause low levels of sodium. Electrolytes don't just cause action potentials. For instance, calcium helps with bone density and blood clotting. Magnesium helps enzymes function. Chloride helps sodium transfer water in and out of cells.
About the Author
  • Julianne (@JuliChiaet) covers health and medicine for LabRoots. Her work has been published in The Daily Beast, Scientific American, and MailOnline. While primarily a science journalist, she has also covered culture and Japanese organized crime. She is the New York Board Representative for the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA). • To read more of her writing, or to send her a message, go to Jchiaet.com
You May Also Like
JUL 15, 2018
Videos
JUL 15, 2018
Meet the Rare Binary Asteroid Recently Confirmed by NASA
Astronomers first became aware of an asteroid called YE5 in December of 2017, but something seemed odd about it after they were unable to discern its physi
JUL 22, 2018
Videos
JUL 22, 2018
Goodbye to Louisiana
One-fourth of Louisiana’s coastline has already disappeared since just the 1930s. Every hour, Louisiana loses about a football field of land to the s
JUL 23, 2018
Videos
JUL 23, 2018
Can Dark-Colored Eyes See Better?
  Other than health risks associated with certain eye colors, can some colors see better than others? For example, can brown eyes see better than ligh
JUL 25, 2018
Videos
JUL 25, 2018
Is Your Brain Completely Unconscious During Anesthesia?
For surgical procedures, anesthesia is a necessary part of patient care. Anesthesia is thought to render a patient unconscious, but according to new r
JUL 29, 2018
Space & Astronomy
JUL 29, 2018
Algae in Space: A Potential Food and Fuel Source?
During SpaceX’s recent CRS-15 launch, a mission to resupply the International Space Station with fresh supplies, the commercial space company’s
AUG 08, 2018
Videos
AUG 08, 2018
A Harbinger of Hope for Alzheimer's Patients?
The search for effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease is ongoing, but overall, hasn’t been productive. Many companies, like pharmaceutica
Loading Comments...