An electrolyte is a substance that will dissociate into ions in a solution, which are found in most sports drinks. Electrolytes are some of the most complex nutrients. Electrolytes are positively or negatively charged ions that conduct electrical activity. In the body electrolytes must be present in proper concentrations in order to maintain fluid balance, muscle contraction and neural activity. The kidneys work to maintain electrolyte balance by conserving or excreting electrolytes. Water is drawn to locations where electrolytes are most concentrated. Therefore, electrolytes play an important role in maintaining the balance of water throughout the body, particularly during exercise when electrolytes and water can be lost through sweating.
Electrolytes lost in high concentrations through sweat include sodium and chloride, while electrolytes lost in low concentrations include potassium, magnesium and calcium. Electrolytes are important because they are what your cells use to maintain voltages across their cell membranes and to carry electrical impulses across themselves and to other cells. When you exercise, you notice sev...
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...Medicine. (2004). Dietary reference intakes for water, potassium, sodium, chloride, and sulfate. Washington D.C.: National Academy Press.
Murray, R. and Kenney, W.L. (2008). Sodium balance and exercise. Current Sports Med Reports Suppl, 7, 4, S1–S2.
Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia Staff. (2012). Electrolytes. Retrieved January 28, 2014 from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002350.htm
How Stuff Works. (2008). What are electrolytes? Retrieved January 28, 2014, from http://www.howstuffworks.com/question565.htm
Vernier. (2014). Properties of Solutions: Electrolytes and Non-Electrolytes. Retrieved January 28, 2014 from http://www.vernier.com/experiments/swn/22/properties_of_solutions_electrolytes_and_non-electrolytes/
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