Internal Balancing Act: Electrolytes and Water
One of my friends is in the hospital today as a result of low electrolyte levels. I was pretty familiar with this condition as my mother experienced it once. I knew it had something to do with imbalance of salt in the body, but I consulted my favorite medical resource, www.
MedicineNet.com, to get a clearer definition. Melissa Conrad StÃ¶ppler, MD explains that â??Electrolytes are substances that become ions in solution and acquire the capacity to conduct electricity.
The balance of the electrolytes in our bodies is essential for normal function of our cells and our organs.â?
My friend was told that she drank too much water and that pushed her over the edge. Exactly how did THAT happen, I wondered? I thought lots of water was good for you. The Electrolytes article notes that tests done to determine appropriate levels in your body measure sodium, potassium, chloride, and bicarbonate. As anyone who ever took high school chemistry knows, sodium (Na ) and chloride combine to form common table salt. Excessive salt intake is excreted in urine.
Sodium, the major positive ion found in the fluid outside of cells helps regulate the total amount of water in the body as well as transmission of sodium into and out of each cell.
Additionally, sodium, being the major positive ion, plays a big role in critical body processes like the brain, nervous system, and muscles, because they require electrical signals for communication. If sodium levels become either too high or too low, things start going out of whack! Too little can even be fatal! Potassium is the major positive ion found inside the cell. So now we have a positive ion outside the cell (sodium) and a positive ion inside the cell. Nope, still no electricity!
Potassium is responsible for essential normal cell function like regular heartbeats, and muscle functioning.
Ok, interesting, vital, but where is the negative ion? Oh, Chloride! Chloride (Cl) is the major negatively charged ion outside the cells in fluid and in the blood. Now, I get it! Sodium (positive charge) plus Chloride (negative charge) gives us Nacl, the jolt we need to function normally. Chloride is also credited with helping our bodies maintain normal fluid levels.
So, back to the question about how much water is too much . Further research at Wikipedia tells me that the normal balance of electrolytes may be disturbed by too much water, i.e., water intoxication, hyperhydration or water poisoning! The result can be brain malfunctioning.
Not good! Hereâ??s the scenario. By drinking too much water in a short period of time, a situation may be created where more water is in the body than can be removed via normal body functions and too few electrolytes are in the mix.
About the Author (text)Nancy Chappell writes about everyday health issues, life and natural solutions. For natural health solutions or starting your own internet business, visit these websites:
http://www.thebestgreenchoices.com and http://www.greencleangiant.com (passcode: health123)
guitar music notes