Electrolytes are compounds that conduct electricity. Electrolytes regulate our nerve and muscle function, our body’s hydration, blood pH, blood pressure, and the rebuilding of damaged tissue. Various mechanisms exist in our body that keep the concentrations of electrolytes under strict control.
In humans, the main electrolytes are:
Our muscles and neurons are sometimes referred to as the “electric tissues” of the body. They are reliant on electrolyte movement between extracellular, interstitial and intracellular fluid (fluid inside, outside or between cells).
A muscle contraction needs calcium, sodium, and potassium to be present. Electrolyte imbalance can lead to either weak muscles, or muscles that contract too severely. It can even lead to brain dysfunction.
Electrolytes are electrically charged minerals that help control the balance of chemicals in your body called acids and bases. Some of these minerals have a positive electric charge. Others have a negative electric charge, all balance the amount of water in your body.
Whether you need to refuel after a tough workout or your body is trying to recover from a cold or the flu, electrolytes and proper hydration are the key to a strong and resilient immune system.
Trace minerals explained
Five percent of your diet typically includes macro minerals and trace minerals. Macro minerals are minerals that you need in quantities greater than 100mg/day and make up about 1 percent of your total body weight. These include sodium, chloride, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium.
Trace minerals are elements that are needed is smaller amounts, 1-100mg/day by adults and are less than .01 percent of total body weight. These include Copper, Chromium, Fluoride, Iodine, Iron, Molybdenum, Manganese, Selenium, and Zinc. Trace Minerals are inorganic matter that cannot be destroyed by cooking or heat and are essential to the body for a variety of processes.
The Great Salt Lake
ReverseFX uses the naturally-occurring minerals in the Great Salt Lake, the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere, as the basis for its mineral content. These minerals provide the body with a natural balance of many minerals that are essential nutrients.
The water in the Great Salt Lake is extremely low in heavy metals. These metals precipitate to the bottom of the lake where anaerobic bacteria immobilize them in sulfate compounds. The Great Salt Lake is therefore self-cleansing of heavy metals.
Uses of Mineral Sea Salts
The primary use of trace minerals is the active site in enzymes that catalyze chemical reactions. These minerals are needed in small amounts because enzymes aren’t consumed during these reactions.
A few examples are:
Selenium’s best-known biological role is a component of the enzyme glutathione peroxidase, which is involved in the metabolism of free radicals that are produced when polyunsaturated fatty acids oxidize. It is also a component of the enzymes involved with thyroid hormones.
Boron is believed to play a role in maintaining bone density. Animal studies show that it is also essential for healthy hair growth.
Lithium is best-known for the management of mood disorders. Its suspected biochemical roles deal with chemical signals in the brain.
Magnesium is the active site for more than 300 enzymes. These enzymes are commonly used for catalyzing reactions involving adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the primary source of chemical energy for humans.
According to Dr. Schauss, our bodies require a two-to-one ratio of potassium to sodium―and at least 4,700 milligrams each day. Though we have more than enough sodium, 93 percent of Americans aren’t getting enough potassium. As a result, muscle tightness, cramping, tension, depression, and anxiety reign supreme.
After the salt/potassium balance, Dr. Schauss believes magnesium and zinc are the third and fourth most crucial minerals to the body with iodine and selenium following quickly behind. Magnesium, is essential for heart health, bone health, and insulin regulation and our bodies require 250-400 milligrams each day. “There was a study in Germany,” he says, “that showed that, if they just added a couple hundred milligrams of magnesium to men’s diets every day as a supplement, they would reduce the cost of coronary heart disease by something like $500 billion over 20 years.”
Then there’s zinc which affects cognitive function and immune system responses, phosphorus which keeps our bones and teeth healthy, and iodine and selenium which are essential for the creation of thyroid hormones. Scientists have even dubbed selenium the “anti-cancer nutrient” after several studies found that communities with selenium-rich soils were less likely to develop cancer than communities with selenium-depleted soils.
“Selenium depletion and iodine depletion can lead to hypothyroidism which affects 35 percent of Americans,” says Dr. Schauss. “And the rate of hypothyroidism and iodine deficiency-caused goiter has tripled since 1970.”
The problem is―despite the fact that our bodies require only trace amounts of minerals―we’re not getting enough. Minerals are created when rocks break down into the soil―which means we typically ingest them by eating foods grown in mineral-rich soils. Unfortunately, over the past 50 years, there has been a documented decline in the mineral content of soil―largely due to modern agricultural methods.
According to the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 43 fruits and vegetables saw declines in the amount of calcium, phosphorus, and iron, over the past half-century. In his research at Washington State University and the University of Washington, Dr. Schauss found a deep decline in minerality. “Looking at the soil mineral levels over the decades, it looked like it had dropped off a cliff from the 30s until the 60s… and this is happening globally.”
Simply put, for cells to absorb nutrients they need electrolytes—or electricity—to allow for the flow of ions.
Electrolytes and Your Immune System
In a perfect world, your immune system protects you from the germs that want to drag you down. But what happens if you’re low on electrolytes? I’ll give you a hint: nothing good. Without a balanced electrolyte profile, your immune system will suffer.
You always need the right ratios of sodium, chloride, potassium, and calcium (just to name a few). Electrolytes are essential to cellular energy production. They also act as messengers that communicate important information throughout the body.
When it comes to your immune system, the most important electrolytes for immunity are:
Electrolytes like calcium, magnesium and zinc act as secondary messengers that regulate immune cell signaling. In other words, they trigger the different parts of the immune system into action. Other electrolytes, like sodium and potassium, regulate what enters and exits the cell. Studies show that electrolytes also affect lymphocyte development.
Calcium is the initial trigger for your immune response. Until recently, scientists understood very little about how wounds attract the first white blood cells. Then in 2013, researchers at the University of Bristol’s School of Biochemistry revealed how the release of calcium is the very first step in healing damaged tissue.
First, a flash of calcium spreads like a wave from the edge of the wound to all other cells, filling in the gaps along the way. Ka-blam! Instant healing!
Then, the calcium signal attracts the first white blood cells by releasing hydrogen peroxide. Without good ‘ol calcium, invading microbes could easily lead to infection, sepsis and death.
A recent study published in the journal Immunity found that calcium also helps fight viruses. It controls how immune cells use nutrients, like glucose, to fuel your army of white blood cells. Ultimately, calcium is the secret sauce that allows your T cells to multiply and spread throughout the body.
Potassium is found in all of the body’s cells. It plays a major role in neutralizing the acids made during digestion. An acidic digestive system can weaken the gut lining and compromise the immune system. Potassium is important for other cellular functions too, including:
- Heartbeat rhythm
- Preventing muscle aches
- Boosting energy levels
But that’s not all... Research also shows that potassium has serious antitumor effects. One recent study found that a combination of potassium, thyroxine, glucose and insulin stimulates lymphocytes to attack colon and skin cancer cells. The study’s authors think that potassium-based therapies may be able to help with chronic infections and autoimmune disease as well.
A separate study featured on the cover of Science magazine investigated why some cancer patients have dysfunctional T cells and others do not. They found that dysfunctional T cells are often due to potassium imbalance.
Even moderately low levels of potassium can cause:
- Trouble sleeping
- Difficulty focusing
- Poor memory
- Kidney stones
Even worse, potassium imbalance can lead to sodium sensitivities and a bunch of other health issues...
Sodium supports the immune cells of the kidney, intestines and skin. In balanced doses, sodium regulates inflammation and helps treat autoimmune conditions through its effects on immune cells. According to a recent study published in the journal Nature, immune cells are closely involved in sodium regulation. Researchers found that dietary changes in salt (sodium chloride) can change your intestinal bacteria.
At one extreme, too much sodium can promote inflammation and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. On the flipside, though, the balanced amounts of sodium in electrolyte supplements can boost immunity without the downsides. For example, a recent study concluded that, “Increasing local Na+ availability may help in treating infections, while lowering tissue Na+ levels may be used to treat, for example, autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases”.
It’s all about balance and synergy!
Chloride is the sister electrolyte of sodium. In nature, they’re found together in the form of salt (sodium chloride). Just like sodium, chloride is essential to immunity. Many immune cells depend on chloride to function. In a 2018 study, researchers found that epithelial, hepatic and fibroblast immune cells have enhanced antiviral activity in the presence of chloride. These cells help fight several kinds of viruses, including:
- Herpes simplex virus-1
- Murine gammaherpesvirus 68
- Respiratory syncytial virus
- Influenza A virus
- Human coronavirus 229E
- Coxsackievirus B3
Zinc affects immunity in several ways: For starters, it helps special immune cells called neutrophils and NK cells. Macrophages—cells that kill harmful bacteria—are also affected by zinc. These cells also support lymphocyte production and communicate with cytokines: the cells that control inflammation.
Zinc is an antioxidant that prevents damage from free radicals and inflammation. When it’s all said and done, zinc deficiency can lead to several health problems, including:
- Skin lesions
- Hair loss
- Poor nutrient absorption
Ultimately, zinc deficiency can affect membrane permeability and cause problems with sugar absorption.
Magnesium is the second-most common electrolyte in all living organisms. Here are just a few of the ways that magnesium beefs-up your immune system:
- Manages inflammation
- Activates immune cells
- Initiates apoptosis, or cell death
In rodent studies, a magnesium-deficient diet causes inflammation after just eight days. Magnesium affects enzyme activation and manages the life cycle of your cells. When you’re deficient, your cells don’t know when to replicate, activate or die.
Magnesium also has a direct effect on mental health. Known as “nature’s chill pill,” magnesium can quickly calm anxiety and promote sleep.
Effects of electrolytes on viral infections
Electrolyte imbalances occurs frequently in patients with infectious diseases.
Early studies have reported various electrolyte abnormalities at admission in patients who progress to the severe form of some viral infections.
Lower serum concentrations of sodium, potassium and calcium have been documented in the severity of these viral infections.
Researches have also documented electrolyte disturbances with HIV infection.
Also, some pathological conditions cause loss of water and electrolytes in the body, especially in the gastrointestinal form of pathogens, which is associated with diarrhea, in which the body experiences loss of electrolytes.
Iron, zinc, magnesium, selenium, and copper have important roles in supporting the innate and adaptive immune systems as well.
Many pathologies are associated with IL-6, and this cytokine causes electrolyte disorder by inducing the vasopressin non-osmotic release.
Impairment in electrolyte balances and lack of trace elements or vitamins cause immune system dysfunction and increase the risk of severe infection.
Zinc is good because zinc has an antiviral effect. Selenium deficiency causes immune system dysfunction and increases the viral replication. Copper might be beneficial for infections due to inhibitory effects on entry and impairment of viral mRNA and capsid. Calcium also decreases the entrance of viruses.
Analysis of symptoms associated with certain viral infections, the activity of repurposed drugs associated with lower death rates or antiviral activity in vitro and a small number of studies describing interventions, point to the importance of electrolyte, and particularly potassium, homeostasis at both the cellular, and systemic level. Elevated urinary loss of potassium is associated with disease severity, and the response to electrolyte replenishment correlates with progression toward recovery.
ACE2 is a negative regulator of the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) that acts in conjunction with ion transporters and the insulin receptor to protect against hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and organ damage. It does this by regulating electrolyte balance and blood pressure, cell volume, intercellular signaling, filtering of urine in the kidney, membrane potential, and the firing rate of electrically active cells.
Hypokalemia/low intracellular potassium can also lead to cellular hyperpolarity, increased resting potential, and depolarization in cardiac and lung cells that can trigger ventricular arrhythmia and respiratory dysfunction.
In parallel, expression of the viral viroporin, Orf3a protein actively promotes potassium efflux, and stimulates activation of the innate immune response. It does so by triggering the cell-intrinsic Nod-like receptor family, pyrin domain-containing 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome, which promotes cytokine release.
Inflammasome responses play fundamental roles in clearing viruses and promoting tissue repair, however, hyperactivation of this immune response, gives rise to the devastating “cytokine storm” that is associated with severe infection, and a major cause of death.
One study involving 1,415 patients, found electrolyte imbalance and hypokalemia were associated with disease severity.
These results present a strong argument for how electrolyte balance functions in response to viral infections.
Brain & Neurodevelopment
Electrolytes are essential for basic life functioning, such as maintaining electrical neutrality in cells, generating and conducting action potentials in the nerves and muscles. Sodium, potassium, and chloride are the significant electrolytes along with magnesium, calcium, phosphate, and bicarbonates.
Brain cells, also called neurons, rely on electrolytes (especially sodium and potassium) to talk with one another. In the case of electrolyte deficiency, this crosstalk gets compromised.
But electrolytes don’t just conduct electrical charges. They also regulate fluid balance, or the amount of water inside and outside your cells.
Maintaining proper fluid balance is critical for brain health. Your brain, after all, is suspended in liquid inside your skull. And sodium, in particular, is a key determinant of cerebral fluid balance.
Mineral deficiency and/or toxic metal burdens may be critical and induce epigenetic alterations in the genes and genetic regulation mechanisms of neurodevelopment in the autistic children.
Levels of calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), iron (Fe), and zinc (Zn) in children with ASD were also significantly lower.
The reestablishing of electrolyte homeostasis can also prevent migraines.
Your nervous system contains two major types of cells: neurons, the nerve cells that communicate to carry out brain functioning, and glia, the specialized cells that support the neurons’ functioning. Electrolytes play an important role in brain function.
Regarding the electrolytes role in cognitive functions of the nervous system, synaptic plasticity that involves electrolytes is a primary mechanism for learning and memory. Electrolytes such as Calcium, sodium and others play important roles in neuronal functioning.
Sodium electrolytes play an important role in brain function. Your brain cells contain proteins, called ion pumps, which allow sodium to flow into and out of the cell. A rapid influx of sodium electrolytes gives the inside of the nerve cell an electrical charge, settling off an electrochemical nerve impulse, called an action potential. Without sodium, you brain cannot initiate the electrical impulses your nerve cells require for proper communication.
One ramification of severe sodium deficiency, for instance, is a profound swelling of the brain. This unhappy condition is called cerebral edema.
Of all the electrolytes, sodium is the most important for brain health. When sodium gets too low, a variety of symptoms result—from headache to fatigue to brain damage.
Normally, your body is fairly adept at preventing dangerously low serum sodium. All the time, specialized neurons called osmoreceptors are measuring the osmolality of your blood. (Osmolality simply refers to the balance of water and electrolytes in a given fluid, like blood.) When osmolality gets too low (i.e., when sodium levels drop), the osmoreceptors tell your brain to stop secreting antidiuretic hormone (ADH). Less ADH means you pee out more fluid, and the concentration of sodium in your blood is restored.
But sometimes, the situation changes too fast for your body to keep up. And when this happens, a dangerous low-sodium condition called hyponatremia can develop.
One consequence of hyponatremia is cerebral edema. When sodium levels rapidly drop, the brain swells with water. If this goes on long enough, the patient may suffer serious consequences.
Potassium plays a central role in the second half of an action potential. After sodium rushes into the nerve cell, potassium electrolytes rush out to neutralize the charged cell, allowing the cell to re-establish its resting state. Without adequate potassium, a nerve cell cannot send more than one electrochemical impulse. After the start of the first action potential, the potassium-deficient cell does not return to its resting state, and thus cannot initiate subsequent action potentials.
Potassium balances sodium’s ability to increase blood pressure, even in “salt sensitive” individuals. In general, higher potassium intakes correlate with lower blood pressure.
Keeping blood pressure low is super important for minimizing the risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. (High blood pressure damages microvessels in the brain).
The electrolyte magnesium also contributes to brain functioning. One of magnesium’s primary roles is to activate enzymes within your brain. As a result of this enzyme activation, magnesium helps control the flow of sodium and potassium into and out of your nerve cells. Magnesium also contributes to healthy myelin -- a fatty insulation layer that surrounds your nerve cells and allows for the effective transmission of electrochemical signals -- and helps your brain cells activate the energy they need to survive.
Magnesium has many functions in the human body, and most of them aren’t related to electricity-conduction. Nonetheless, magnesium deficiency has dire consequences for the nervous system, including:
- Muscle spasms
- Muscle cramps
Magnesium can also have a relaxative effect. Some research has shown that magnesium supplementation reduces stress and anxiety in vulnerable populations, but better controlled studies are needed on the topic.
OTHER ELECTROLYTES AND YOUR BRAIN
While sodium is the key electrolyte for brain function, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium deserve a mention too.
Ninety-nine percent of bodily calcium is stored in your skeleton. The rumors are true: calcium builds bone.
However, calcium also functions as an electrolyte. In other words, it helps your nervous system send messages.
When someone has low serum calcium (hypocalcemia), they may suffer cognitive symptoms like fatigue, depression, anxiety, and irritability. Hypocalcemia can also cause tetany, or involuntary muscle contraction.
Phosphorus, or phosphate, is found in DNA, muscle, bones, and energy (ATP). When someone is phosphate deficient, they may suffer neuromuscular problems like muscle weakness, tremors, and respiratory dysfunction. In severe cases, coma or seizures can result.
But since phosphates are abundant in the food supply, deficiency is rare. In fact, Americans consume too much phosphorus—a dietary pattern linked to increased fracture risk.
RECAP: ELECTROLYTES FOR YOUR BRAIN
- Electrolytes conduct nerve signals and regulate fluid balance in the brain.
- Sodium is critical for brain health.
- Hyponatremia (low serum sodium) symptoms include headaches, fatigue, lethargy, and seizures. When sodium is rapidly depleted from overwatering, it can cause brain swelling.
- A chronic sodium deficit (common in low-carb folks) can lead to subtle cognitive impairments.
- Calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus deficiencies are linked to neurological symptoms.
- Higher potassium intakes help prevent hypertension, a key Alzheimer’s risk factor.
Electrolytes are essential for basic life functioning, such as:
- Maintaining electrical neutrality in cells
- Generating and conducting action potentials in the nerves and muscles.
- Essential for keeping your nervous system and muscles functioning.
- Ensuring that your body’s internal environment is optimal by keeping you hydrated and helping regulate your internal pH.
- Sodium, potassium, and chloride are the significant electrolytes along with magnesium, calcium, phosphate, and bicarbonates.
Electrolytes are important because they are what your cells (especially nerve, heart, muscle) use to maintain voltages across their cell membranes and to carry electrical impulses (nerve impulses, muscle contractions) across themselves and to other cells. Your kidneys work to keep the electrolyte concentrations in your blood constant despite changes in your body.
When you exercise heavily, you lose electrolytes in your sweat, particularly sodium and potassium. These electrolytes must be replaced to keep the electrolyte concentrations of your body fluids constant.
By now you can surely see and appreciate the powerful health benefits of the electrolytes found in ReverseFX because we know that all matter is electrical.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.