Did you know your body is 60% water by weight? Blood is 90% water, muscle is 75% water, bone is 25% water an fat is 5% water. There is water in our cells and outside our cells. Yes, water is a major component the body, but what does it do in there?
Water has many essential functions in the body. Some of the responsibilities of water include transportation of nutrients, regulation of body temperature, participation in biochemical reactions, transportation of waste products, and protection via lubrication, cleansing and cushioning of the body.
Though water has many functions in the body, it must remain in proper balance for the body to function. Too much water or improper transport of water in the body can lead to edema or water intoxication. Too little water in the body can lead to dehydration. One way the body regulates water balance is with electrolytes. Electrolytes include such particles as sodium (Na+), chloride (Cl-), potassium (K+) and magnesium (Mg+). These particles are part of systems in the body that achieve water balance and acid/base balance.
In addition to being essential for fluid balance, electrolytes also play a role in nerve transmission and muscle contraction making proper electrolyte intake vital for everyday bodily functions and especially critical for exercise.
Electrolyte Sources and Recommended Intake
- Sources: processing, naturally occuring in food, table salt
- Adequate Intake: 1500 mg/day
- Upper Limit: 2300 mg/day
- Sources: potatoes, bananas, dried apricots
- Adequate Intake: 4,700 mg/day
- Upper Limit: none
- Sources: table salt, KCl (salt substitute)
- Adequate Intake: 2,300 mg/day
- Upper Limit: 3,600 mg/day
- Sources: coffee, tea, cocoa, whole-grains, legumes, nuts, green leafy vegetables
- Daily Recommended Intake: about 400 mg
Water and electrolyte intake is imperative for exercise and especially outdoor exercise where the body can loose large amounts of both water and electrolytes. So, before going to beach, gardening, or going on a run, remember to drink plenty of fluids and include electrolytes in you diet or beverages to achieve maximal exercise performance and to reduce unnecessary stress on the body.