Electrolytes in Food

Eating a healthy balanced diet is the best way to ensure you are getting your daily intake of all essential vitamins and minerals.  While some athletes will need to supplement their diets, having knowledge of which foods have the highest nutritional content should be considered first.

Electrolytes are needed to regulate nerve and muscle function as well as maintain fluid balance.  They can be lost with excessive exercise via sweat, particularly in extreme heat.

Liquid electrolyte drinks:

When you hear about electrolytes and electrolyte replenishment you probably first think of a sports drink.  Gatorade or Vitamin water.  They are a great quick fix, but are most often only going to replace sodium and potassium loss.  I would think of these drinks as a sort of band-aid, but there are a lot more factors needed to bring the body back to a balanced state.

Orange Juice is another great source.  It has a great amount of potassium as well as vitamin C which is not an electrolyte, but it is full of antioxidants that help promote reduction in free radical damage caused my exercise.

Another natural source of electrolytes found in a drink comes from coconut water.  It’s full of potassium and a small amount of sodium similar to a sports drink, but without the additional sugar intake.

Green Leafy Veggies:

When looking for a good salad choice, or greens to add to your smoothies or juice recipes, reach for the bigger and darker greens.  Kale, Swiss chard, and arugula are all great sources of calcium which is important in the transmission of nerve impulses.

Leafy veggies are all great sources of Magnesium that also helps support bone development and muscle and nerve function.

Sodium Rich (healthy) foods:

Above we mentioned sports and other electrolyte drinks being great sources for sodium, but there are also foods that you may already eat regularly that contain high amounts of sodium without the additional sugar of a sports drink.

Tuna fish, salmon, and whole grain breads are great higher sodium foods that are low in saturated fat and have higher amounts of protein as well.  You can also use certain condiments like pickles and olives to add flavorful sodium.

As a side note, have you ever tasted a salty dill pickle after a long workout in the heat?   Try it!  It will help that “salt” craving!

Other Fruits and Vegetables that contain electrolytes:

Nuts , cereals, beans, and oats are all high in Magnesium.  Sweet potatoes, bananas and spinach are all great sources of potassium that can be used as staples with a meal.  Snacking on fruits like cantaloupe, grapes and berries are also great sources of potassium.

As you can see it is pretty easy to find natural sources of the essential electrolytes needed in your daily diet.  Making a point to eat REAL food like fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains will be your best way to not only have a balanced diet, but also replenish electrolytes.