An electrolyte imbalance occurs when your body contains too many or too few minerals. This imbalance could indicate a problem, such as a kidney disease.
When minerals dissolve in fluids such as blood and urine, they emit an electrical charge. Your body produces electrolytes. These minerals can also be obtained through foods, beverages, and supplements. Electrolytes in blood, tissue, urine and other bodily fluids play an important role in fluid balance, heart rhythm regulation, and nerve and muscle function.
Electrolytes serve a variety of functions in your body, including:
Sodium regulates fluid levels and promotes nerve and muscle function.
Potassium aids in the function of the heart, nerves, and muscles. It also helps your metabolism by transporting nutrients into cells and waste products out of them.
Calcium aids in the contraction and expansion of blood vessels, which helps to keep blood pressure stable. It also secretes hormones and enzymes (proteins) that aid in transmitting messages by the nervous system.
Chloride aids in the maintenance of normal blood levels, blood pressure, and body fluids.
Magnesium is beneficial to nerve and muscle function. It also promotes the development of strong bones and teeth.
Phosphate aids in the function of the skeletal system, as well as nerve and muscle function.
Bicarbonate aids in the balance of acids and essential alkaline compounds (bases) in the blood (pH balance). Bicarbonate also aids in the transport of carbon dioxide (a waste product) through your bloodstream.
Water accounts for more than half of your body weight. Most of this water is held by blood and fluid in and around cells (known as fluid compartments). Electrolytes are constantly moved in and out of cells by your kidneys, liver, and other organs and tissue to adjust fluid levels within compartments.
Certain medical conditions can impair your body’s ability to transport and balance electrolytes. An electrolyte imbalance occurs when fluid compartments contain either too many or too few electrolytes.