Dehydration, Winter & Electrolytes

Winter is coming which means the likelihood of dehydration is much higher.

When we become dehydrated, we lose electrolytes. Therefore, what is lost needs to be replenished in order to return to a normal state of hydration. Simply put, drinking water by itself will not do the trick.

Electrolytes are minerals in your body that have an electric charge located in your blood, urine, tissues and other body fluids. A few reasons they are important include:

  • Electrolytes balance the amount of water in your body as well as your body's acid/base (pH) level.
  • Electrolytes move nutrients into your cells and waste outside of your cells.
  • Electrolytes ensure that your nerves, muscles, heart and brain function properly.
Sodium, calcium, potassium, chloride, phosphate and magnesium are all electrolytes. You acquire them through food and fluid intake. Electrolyte-rich food sources include: spinach, kale, avocados, broccoli, potatoes, beans, almonds, peanuts, strawberries, watermelon, tomatoes, bananas, oranges, milk, yogurt, chicken, turkey, olives, raisins and canned foods.

Not sure what to look out for with dehydration? Below are symptoms you may experience if your electrolyte supply is low and needing a boost.

  • Muscle cramps and/or weakness
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Headache
  • Extreme thirst
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Noticeable lethargy or fatigue
  • Alterations in blood pressure

To avoid dehydration, here are a few recommendations:

  • Make sure your diet includes foods with electrolytes (see above).
  • Drink plenty of water, but don't go crazy. Too much water can actually flush out electrolytes, aka backfire.
  • Be mindful of medications. Some can lead to dehydration. Therefore, it is always best to consult a physician before taking any medication for a prolonged period of time.
  • Be mindful of salt intake. While it is an electrolyte, too much will create an imbalance in the body.
  • If you exercise frequently/sweat profusely, be mindful of your diet. You may want to consider an electrolyte supplement.