Sodium, calcium, chloride, magnesium and potassium are the most common electrolytes present in the human body that help in heart, nerve and muscle functions. Our body needs various salts in order to keep ourselves active. Salt imbalance could result in medical emergencies like heart or nerves related complications.
While we eat, the mineral salts present in our diet dissolves in the fluids in our bodies and form ‘electrolytes’. They are present in our blood, urine, in the fluid inside the body's cells and in the fluid in the space surrounding the cells.
Our body fluids like blood, plasma, interstitial fluid (fluid between cells) are like seawater and have a high concentration of sodium chloride. Table salt contains sodium chloride (NaCl).
The electrolytes present in table salt are
· sodium ion (Na+) - cation
· chloride ion (Cl-) – anion
These electrolytes are electrically charged and can conduct current impulses which are necessary for muscle cell contractions. An electrical voltage has to be maintained across the cell membrane in order to generate electrical impulses. The difference in electrolyte levels creates and maintains these electrical voltages.
Our body works constantly to maintain correct levels of water and electrolytes. Kidneys filter electrolytes from the blood and work to keep their levels in the blood constant. Hormones also help regulate electrolyte balance.
You might have seen athletes drinking sports drinks very often. The reason is to replace the salts in their body that was lost due to their sports activities. Also electrolytes are prescribed when infants or child falls sick due to vomiting or diarrhea.
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