Sodium is probably the only controversial nutrient of all the electrolytes, but this really isn’t necessary. Sodium is a vital, health giving nutrient that every human needs. For the majority of the population, limiting dietary sodium actually does more harm than good. We need, at the very least, 2300mg per day. Some may need 5000mg or more.
Convention recommendations have unfortunately set 2300mg as the upper limit which has done many people a disservice. What conventional nutrition recommendations fail to explain is that not all sodium is created equal. I would absolutely agree that we need to take action to avoid or limit sodium that comes from processed foods and iodized table salt.
However, the natural sodium found in whole foods and from the salting our foods with unrefined sea salt provides us with essential nutrients (beyond just sodium) that provide an array of benefits.
Sodium plays a variety of vital roles in our body such as controlling our fluid balance and proper muscle and nerve function. Sodium also helps our kidneys properly process the foods and drinks we consume.
Too little sodium and we wind up with a host of problems such muscle cramps, dizziness, confusion, and weakness to name a few.
If you’re following a low-carb or ketogenic diet, or are an avid exerciser, your sodium requirements will actually be higher than average.
Now, since I don’t know your individual health history, I can’t recommend limiting or increasing your sodium intake (unless it’s coming from processed foods, then I wholeheartedly recommend avoiding them), but I would encourage you to dig into this topic if you feel like dietary changes regarding sodium would benefit you!
Now, let’s shift the focus over to magnesium.
Magnesium, another extremely important electrolyte, also has multiple functions in the body, such as it’s participation in muscle contraction and relaxation (including the heart!), nerve impulses, as well as the formation of our bones and teeth. Magnesium deficiency can show up as irregular heart rhythms, muscle cramps, constipation, anxiety and trouble sleeping. We need at least 400mg of magnesium per day to maintain our normal bodily functions.
Potassium, the third and final electrolyte I’ll be discussing, offers its own benefits as well. Potassium is also involved in the functioning of the heart muscle as well as nerve impulses, and has a strong relationship with sodium. We need at least 400mg of potassium per day to maintain our normal bodily functions. Most of this is stored inside of cells.
All of these electrolytes participate in our body’s fluid balance as it helps to regulate water’s movement in and out of cells.
So next time you hear the word hydration, don’t simply think of water. Hydration involves both water and electrolytes!
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