ELECTROLYTES IN THE BODY
Hey lovers! I hope you are doing well? I am doing fine.
In response to the questions I got about my post on Potassium in banana, I have decided to tell you more about Electrolytes in the body.
WHAT ARE ELECTROLYTES?
Electrolytes are chemical substances that change into ions in solution and they have the capacity to conduct electricity.
They are present in our bodies, and maintaining a balanced levels of these electrolytes in the body is necessary for normal functioning of the cells and organs. The common electrolytes are : Sodium, Potassium, Chloride and Bicarbonate.
Let’s take them one after the other:
SODIUM: It is the major positive ion we have in the fluid outside the cells. As you may know, Sodium is one of the components of salt, however it is not the same thing as salt. Salt is a combination of 40% Sodium and 60% Chloride (scientifically written as NaCl).
NORMAL SODIUM LEVEL: the normal range should be within 135-145mEq/L or 135-145mmol/L. Excess amounts of Sodium is usually consumed in the food we eat. You should take note that you cannot tell how salty a food item is simply from tasting it. Different food processing companies add different amounts of Sodium to their products even if the products are same. For instance, ABC Meat Pie can contain higher Sodium levels than XYZ Meat Pie.
SOURCES OF SODIUM: 75% of the Sodium we eat is from processed packaged and restaurant foods, 12% exists naturally in foods, 10% in foods we prepare by ourselves (as salt, as baking soda,etc). Foods like milk, canned soups and beets contain natural Sodium. Some drugs also contain high Sodium levels, so ensure to check labels and also ask your health care provider for guidance.
FUNCTION: Sodium regulates the total amount of water in the body. Some of the processes in the body especially in the brain, nervous system and muscles require electrical signals for communication. The electrical signals are generated by the movement of sodium.
ABNORMALITIES THAT RESULT FROM SODIUM IMBALANCE
Low/high Sodium levels can cause the cells to malfunction and when extremely low/high in the blood, the effect can be fatal.
Abnormally High Sodium Levels (Hypernatremia): This occurs when there is excess Sodium in relation to water usually as a result of kidney disease (becausethe kidney helps to regulate Sodium through excretion),or dehydration (as a result of little water intake, diarrhea, vomiting, excessive sweating).
This can worsen existing kidney and heart diseases, hypertension/raised BP.
Abnormally Low Sodium Levels (Hyponatremia): Increase in the amount of water relative to Sodium. Example is when one has liver/kidney disease, congestive heart failure and burns injury. Hyponatremia can worsen an existing low Blood Pressure.
To regulate your Sodium level, drink enough water, cut down on processed foods/drinks, avoid sprinkling salt on food at the table after cooking and use little salt while cooking.
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