Electrolytes, like water, are essential to your survival. Many automatic bodily functions, like the creation of new tissue and your muscles' operation, require a small electric current. Because electrolytes conduct electricity when dissolved in water, they provide this charge. 
There's an abundance of neon-colored sports drinks claiming to replenish electrolytes and improve hydration. Whether you're drinking them after an intense workout or a night of alcohol, you may wonder — what are the health benefits of electrolyte drinks and are their health claims valid?

Let's find out what electrolytes are and why your body needs them.

What Are Electrolytes?

Electrolytes are essential minerals that help your body maintain balanced fluids and your cells to communicate with each other.

The main electrolyte minerals required for healthy body function include:

  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Phosphate
  • Calcium
  • Bicarbonate
  • Chloride

If you lose these minerals through sweating, vomiting or diarrhea, you can end up with an unhealthy imbalance. Intense exercise is the most common way to lose electrolytes, but if you're a heavy sweater or you've been sick, you may need to replenish your electrolytes with some electrolyte drinks.

Electrolyte Drinks and Supplements

While electrolytes are naturally present in the liquids and foods we consume, it can be easy to end up with an imbalance. Because of considerable changes in our diets from our hunter-gatherer past to the present, some of our electrolytes' ratios are no longer optimal. 

Many people also lack magnesium, potassium and fiber, and overeat sodium, sugar and saturated fat.

Signs of low electrolytes include:

  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Blood pressure changes
  • Muscle cramps
  • Low energy
  • Generally feeling unwell

Electrolyte drinks come in various forms — from powders and tablets that dissolve in water to liquids that come in bottles. Water, salt and sugar help your body absorb fluids, but many electrolyte drinks and supplements have too much sugar and not enough nutrients. Sugar hampers your body's ability to replenish the electrolytes it needs.

The company TruLabs has created various electrolyte drinks and supplements using natural minerals, vitamins, and herbs. Their products doctor-formulated and used by athletes, competitors and various health enthusiasts.

What Are the Benefits of Electrolytes?

Your body needs the right balance of electrolytes for optimal health and physical performance. Electrolytes are critical to numerous key bodily functions.

Some electrolyte benefits include:

  • Rehydration
  • Regulated muscle contractions
  • Increased energy and equilibrium
  • Balanced pH levels — the measure of alkalinity and acidity in your blood
  • Controlled nervous-system function

Rehydration

Staying hydrated is key to maintaining a healthy electrolyte balance. The number of electrolytes you lose during exercise, from a fever or drinking alcohol, can depend on how much you sweat and urinate.

The primary electrolyte you lose through sweating is sodium. Sodium helps your body retain fluid. When you sweat, you're losing fluid, and over time, this loss will cause dehydration. 

As a diuretic, alcohol makes you urinate more than usual, and not everybody drinks water with their alcohol. If you experience vomiting or diarrhea, you could lose even more water and electrolytes. These losses can all lead to dehydration.

The most apparent symptom of dehydration is thirst. But after an intense workout, a short night of sleep, or drinking alcohol, you may also experience a dry tongue or lips, headache, dizziness, weakness and nausea.

Having a drink rich in electrolytes like TruLabs' HYDRATE15 can help your body replenish essential minerals and vitamins lost through sweating.

Regulated Muscle Contractions 

Many sports drinks have sodium chloride or potassium chloride added to them, which are vital electrolytes lost when exercising. Potassium chloride helps regulate muscle contractions and fluid balance and maintain healthy nerve function.

A diet high in potassium may also help preserve muscle mass in older people. A potassium deficiency can occur when your body loses a lot of fluid.

Muscle cramps are often attributed to magnesium and potassium deficiencies but can also occur due to lost sodium through sweating. While potassium-rich bananas can help when you're cramping, drinking liquid rich in electrolytes is another effective way to help. 

Increased Energy and Equilibrium

Each of your body's cells contains the mineral phosphorus. Your body needs phosphorus to make energy and perform many vital chemical processes. Phosphate and calcium are essential electrolytes that work together to maintain equilibrium and play critical roles in various physical processes, including:

  • Providing energy for muscle contraction
  • Blood clotting
  • Acid-base balance

Electrolyte drinks like TruLabs' doctor-formulated PRE and ENERGY contain naturally sourced caffeine from coffee beans combined with the three nutrients every cell in your body needs to create energy — adenine, ribose and phosphate.

Balanced PH Levels

Your blood needs the right balance of acidic and alkaline compounds to function correctly. Acid and alkaline levels are measured on a pH scale to determine your pH or acid-base balance

Your lungs work to maintain a healthy pH balance by releasing carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a slightly acidic waste product created by your body's cells as they use oxygen.

The electrolyte bicarbonate is a form of carbon dioxide that is released by exhaling. It works to lower your body's pH balance by neutralizing stomach acid and reducing acidity in your blood.

Your kidneys act as your body's center for electrolyte monitoring and can detect changes in your body when your electrolyte levels shift. Even mild variations from a healthy pH balance can significantly affect your vital organs and may lead to medical conditions known as acidosis and alkalosis.

Some types of acidosis are caused by your body losing too much of the electrolytes chloride and bicarbonate through:

  • Intense exercise without adequate rehydration
  • Diarrhea or vomiting leading to dehydration
  • Drinking large amounts of liquid that doesn't contain electrolytes

Drinking too much liquid that doesn't contain electrolytes can lead to over hydration which can cause your electrolyte levels to drop too low. Electrolytes that fall too low and too quickly can be fatal.

Electrolyte drinks can help you maintain the correct hydration and electrolyte balance levels during intense exercise or while recovering from illness or overindulgence. TruLabs' electrolyte drinks could be vital to your health.