A healthy diet provides the electrolytes that your body needs to function properly. These electrically charged minerals help your muscles contract and your nerves transmit impulses. Electrolytes help your body maintain the proper fluid balance, and your kidneys work hard to keep electrolytes at the right level. Calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium and chloride are the most common electrolytes. You lose electrolytes when you sweat, so they need replenishment during intense exercise or very warm weather.
Calcium is the most abundant electrolyte mineral in your body, and it plays a crucial role in the health of your bones and teeth. Maintaining the proper calcium levels over the course of your lifetime plays an important role in protecting you against osteoporosis. Many foods contain calcium, but the richest sources include yogurt, collard greens, black-eyed peas and skim milk. An 8-ounce cup of plain yogurt contains 415 milligrams of calcium, while a cup of soy milk contains 93 milligrams.
Potassium helps your body break down carbohydrates, maintain proper growth and regulate electrical activity of the heart. Potassium is found in a variety of foods. Good sources include red meat, chicken and fish. Vegetables such as broccoli, winter squash, tomatoes, lima beans and peas are also rich in potassium. Fruits high in calcium include bananas, kiwis, cantaloupe, apricots and citrus fruits.
Every organ in your body relies on magnesium. It helps your body maintain the proper calcium, potassium, zinc, copper and vitamin D levels. It also helps your body produce energy. Good sources include nuts, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, blackstrap molasses and pumpkin and squash seeds
Like calcium, phosphorus helps you maintain strong bones and teeth. It plays a role in the growth, repair and maintenance of your cells as well. It also helps your body produce energy from carbohydrates and fat. Fruits and vegetables contain very little phosphorous. Meats and milk products provide the primary sources of phosphorus in your diet.
Sodium and Chloride
While too much sodium can cause adverse health effects, a small amount of sodium is critical to your health. Sodium helps regulate blood volume and blood pressure. Foods such as milk, beets and celery contain naturally occurring sodium. However, sodium chloride, also known as table salt, is the most common form of sodium. While chloride is found in table salt, it is found naturally in foods such as seaweed, tomatoes, celery, and olives.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Calcium
- Harvard School of Public Health: Calcium Sources in Food
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Potassium
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Magnesium
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Phosphorus
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Sodium
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Chloride
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Electrolytes
- MedlinePlus: Electrolytes