How to Balance Electrolytes in the Body

by Carolyn Robbins
Drink plenty of water.

Drink plenty of water.

Electrolytes are chemicals including sodium, potassium, calcium, chlorine and magnesium that play an important role in physiological functions. Muscle contraction, nerve function, blood clotting, fluid balance and heart rhythm are all processes dependent on electrolyte balance. Proper food and fluid intake is the best way to prevent a chemical imbalance. It's also important to be conscious of your day-to-day activities and adjust your diet accordingly.

Step 1

Identify the cause of your electrolyte imbalance. The loss of fluids through sweating, vomiting, diarrhea and fever is the most common culprit for an electrolyte imbalance according to MedlinePlus. Although dehydration is usually to blame, excessive hydration can also cause problems. Review your activities over the past few weeks. Have you been sick? Exercising more than usual? Doing strenuous yard work? Identifying the cause is the first step to restoring electrolyte balance.

Step 2

Address the problem. If you've been sick, you may need to lay low and hydrate for a few days to recover. If you're exercising or doing yard work, consider rearranging your schedule so that you can work at a cooler point in the day when you'll sweat less. If you've been making frequent trips to the bathroom, perhaps you are over-hydrating and need to drink a little less.

Step 3

Think about how much water you drink in a day. The Institute of Medicine recommends a total beverage intake of approximately 3 liters for men and 2.2 liters for women, but there is no guideline that fits everyone. You may need to drink more if you are an athlete or less if you are sedentary and indoors most of the day. Carry a water bottle with you and take a few sips whenever you feel thirsty. Drink an extra 1.5 to 2.5 cups of water on days that you engage in moderate intensity exercise, recommends the MayoClinic.com.

Step 4

Eat a well-balanced diet. Electrolytes come from your food and drink. Dairy products are a good source of calcium while fruits and vegetables will supply you with potassium, phosphate and magnesium. Unless you are on a low-sodium diet, you'll get plenty of salt by eating normally. Sports drinks aren't necessary to balance electrolytes in your body unless you're an athlete or have a physically demanding job.

Warning

  • Symptoms of dehydration include thirst, dark urine, infrequent urination, lethargy and dizziness. If you think you are dehydrated, move to a cool room and drink small quantities of water over several hours.

About the Author

Carolyn Robbins began writing in 2006. Her work appears on various websites and covers various topics including neuroscience, physiology, nutrition and fitness. Robbins graduated with a bachelor of science degree in biology and theology from Saint Vincent College.

Photo Credits

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