Electrolytes

Sodium, potassium and chloride are macro minerals that also function as electrolytes. Salt is a food additive that adds flavor and is used as a preservative in many packaged foods. Our body needs very little sodium to conduct nerve impulses, contract and relax muscles, and maintain proper water and mineral balance. Too much sodium is associated with high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. Recommended limits are 1.2 to 1.5g/day. The American Heart Association has identified the “Salty Six” foods that add the most sodium in our diet.25

Salty Six Foods

Table 5 lists the type of electrolytes, their sources and deficiency symptoms.11

Table 5. Minerals that function as Electrolytes
Electrolyte Source Deficiency
Sodium: (Na)
  • Regulates fluid balance
  • Maintenance of blood volume and pressure
  • Nerve and muscle impulses
  • Table salt, soups, cured meats, processed foods
Hyponatremia
  • Consumption of too many fluids
  • Heart and kidney failure
Chloride: (Cl)
  • Works with sodium
  • Regulates fluid balance
  • Component of hydrochloric acid
  • Table salt, eggs, fish, meat, processed foods
  • Rare
Potassium: (K)
  • Builds proteins and muscle tissue
  • Electrical stimulation of heart muscle
  • Bone health
  • Bananas, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, oranges, melons, dairy
Hypokalemia
  • Kidney disease
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
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