Maintaining proper levels of anything in your body is important for your body to function appropriately. Electrolytes are electrically charged minerals, negative or positive, and run throughout the body’s fluids, blood, and urine. The major electrolytes of the body are Na+ (sodium), K+ (potassium), Cl– (chloride), Ca2+ (calcium), H+ (hydrogen), HCO3– (bicarbonate), and phosphates; these electrolytes can be found in the food and drinks we consume everyday. They are responsible for many body processes such as the transport of water and other fluids within the body, muscle activity, and even metabolism to name a few. If one were to fail to balance their electrolyte levels whether the amount is too high or too low, with any of the electrolytes that the body uses, it can create problems for any individual’s functionality. With that being said electrolyte levels inside the body are amongst one of the many things in ones body that are important to keep balanced on a day-to-day basis.
Electrolytes affect the osmolarity of the body’s fluids, which is the amount of mineral content present in the fluid itself. Directly related to water balance, electrolytes work with the water in the body to carry out its processes and aid in transportation and distribution across membranes due to the positive or negative charges that have resulted from the solutions. This makes the two, water and electrolytes, dependent on each other meaning that if water levels are insufficient or there is excess it would affect the osmolarity that would throw off the balance causing solutions around the body to be more dilute or concentrated. Similar complications would occur if the electrolyte levels were too low or high. When this happens the electrolytes are incapable of working properly and can possibly lead to health issues.
The major electrolyte in the extracellular fluid is the sodium ion, which makes it the key solute in all of the body’s water. Sodium is also responsible for determining the concentration levels throughout all fluid compartments and for the resting membrane potential of cells. Without sodium, cells would not be able to transmit signals because they would not be electrically charged and no information would be sent out. On average, an American consumes about 3 to 7 grams of sodium a day and a typical adult human requires only about 0.5 grams of sodium per day making sodium deficiency a rare occurrence. When there is excess sodium in the system there are hormones that are released such as aldosterone and antidiuretic hormones in order to regulate sodium levels. Sodium imbalances typically fall under one of two categories: hypernatremia (plasma sodium concentration greater than 245 mEq/L) or hyonatremia (plasma sodium concentration less than 130 mEq/L).
Much like sodium, potassium is a positively charged ion; also know as a cation, which is in responsible for creating the resting membrane potential for cells. Potassium works with sodium to produce...