Is the sense for salt depending on the electrolyte level in our body?

Is the sense for salt depending on the electrolyte level in our body?

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I often noticed, after (heavy) physical activity like cycling, running, swimming or working an isotonic drink (to recover the electrolyte level) tastes less "salty" compared to when drinking it before the activity.

Is this possible or am I just hallucinating?

The object of this (if it's real) could be:

  • to save us of taking too much salt
  • to reduce the reluctance against salt if our body is undersupplied (with sodium ions)

My guess is, that the electrolyte or particularly the sodium (chloride) level in our body influences the cells/nerves that sense the taste for salt on our tongue.

Wikipedia says this:

Salts, sweet, sour and umami tastes causes depolarization of the taste cells, although different mechanisms are applied.

So, I imagine it like this:

  1. If there is enough salt in our body, the cells are saturated with e.g. sodium ions (higher polarization since there are more ions)
  2. NaCland other salts (probablyKCltoo) will then dissociate intoNa+andCl-(etc.)
  3. TheCl-will then attract moreNa+from the cells causing deplolarization
  4. Our brain converts these signals into the proper perception

But maybe I'm just hallucinating… :)

Is this possible or am I just hallucinating?

Certainly possible, but I'd peg the mechanism closer to Sensitization or De-sensitization of the neurons involved so that when you finally ingest some salt the sensation is different. The sodium and chloride levels of the ingested material wouldn't have a direct effect on the level of De-/Sensitization, but rather how low your stores are or how long you've gone without.

So, I imagine it like this…

What you broadly described is how regular sodium receptors work. They will work that way regardless of what you've been doing, and doesn't really explain an increase or decrease in your ability to taste salt - the signals will fire either way.

Check out the action of the Capsaicin receptor and how it changes sensitivity over short periods of time. I'm betting the phenomenon you're describing will be closer to this (an increase or decrease in the number of sodium receptors in response to the abundance of salts or lack-thereof) than an immediate mechanism from the drink itself.

A reduced sodium product like Lite Salt may be useful because sodium is known to exacerbate elevated blood pressure that is associated with heart disease, kidney disease, liver failure, a history of long term steroid use, Eating over 2,400 milligrams a day may cause your blood pressure to rise. This figure includes the sodium content of your food as well as sodium-containing seasonings you may add. Excess sodium may cause you to retain more water and interfere with your medications.

A quarter teaspoon of Morton's Lite Salt contains 360 milligrams of potassium and 300 milligrams of sodium, compared to no potassium and 575 mg of sodium in regular table salt. Both potassium and sodium are important electrolytes in your body. Their concentrations are closely regulated inside and outside of your cells because they enable electricity to flow across cell membranes, making possible heart, nerve and muscle activity, according to the Linus Pauling Institute.

Phosphate helps to strengthen your bones and teeth, and with the production of energy for tissue growth and repair.

Bicarbonate helps with regulating your heart function and maintaining a healthy pH balance.

Causes of an Electrolyte Imbalance

While it&rsquos normal for your electrolyte levels to fluctuate, they may become imbalanced for a variety of reasons. This imbalance may be the result of your body creating too few or too many electrolytes (1, 6, 7, 8, 9) .

Common causes of an electrolyte imbalance include:

  • Fluid loss from heavy exercise or physical activity
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Poor diet low in essential nutrients
  • Malabsorption of essential nutrients
  • Medications, including antibiotics, diuretics, and chemotherapy drugs

Other potential causes of an electrolyte imbalance include:

  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Alcoholism
  • Cirrhosis
  • Kidney diseases
  • Eating disorders
  • Heart failure
  • Severe burns
  • Some forms of cancer

Electrolytes and Keto

If you are on a ketogenic diet it is important to pay attention to your electrolyte levels even if you are drinking a lot of water. On a diet, you may lose a lot of water weight. As a result of the increased water excretion and decreased water retention, your body may also flush essential electrolytes.

If you are doing keto, drink plenty of fluids while paying attention to and ensuring that you are replenishing sodium, potassium, magnesium, and electrolytes. Later in this article, I will share some proven tips to replenish your electrolytes, including using an Advanced Electrolyte Formula .

Main Symptoms of an Electrolyte Imbalance

Electrolytes play a variety of important roles within your body. As a result, an electrolyte imbalance can result in noticeable changes very quickly in your body.

Your symptoms may vary depending on the type of electrolyte imbalance you are experiencing and the electrolytes you may be low on. It would be wise to address your electrolyte levels if you are experiencing these symptoms.

Scenario 2 – Randy drinks WATER

The table below shows the predictions for what would happen if Randy drank 500ml per hour – this is a reasonable rate for someone who drinks to thirst, though it does depend on the conditions.

What you see from this table is that now, the sodium concentration will still be in the normal range of 135 to 145mM. Note that this scenario is again IDEAL – his sodium level is in the normal range, he’s been drinking to thirst (approximately) and his physiological situation is 100% normal. In fact, the ideal and most common scenario in reality is probably somewhere between Scenario 1 and Scenario 2 – about 30% to 50% of sweat losses replaced would see you finishing in a “normal” range.

How to Increase Electrolytes

This article was co-authored by Claudia Carberry, RD, MS. Claudia Carberry is a Registered Dietitian specializing in kidney transplants and counseling patients for weight loss at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She is a member of the Arkansas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Claudia received her MS in Nutrition from the University of Tennessee Knoxville in 2010.

There are 20 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

This article has been viewed 25,445 times.

Electrolytes are tiny minerals that exist in your blood and body fluids. They have to be in proper balance for your muscles, nerves, and the amount of fluid in your blood to be in good working order. Your electrolytes – sodium, potassium, calcium, chloride, magnesium, and phosphate – can get depleted if you sweat a lot, so it’s important to replenish electrolytes after a workout. Electrolyte imbalance, caused by loss of fluids, inadequate diet, malabsorption, or other conditions, can have serious consequences. Imbalance may even lead to irregular heartbeat, confusion, sudden blood pressure changes, nervous system or bone disorders, and in extreme cases, even death. [1] X Research source Electrolytes can be replenished, though, through fluids, foods, supplements, and some medical practices. [2] X Trustworthy Source MedlinePlus Collection of medical information sourced from the US National Library of Medicine Go to source Keep in mind that most people will not have an issue with electrolytes as long as you eat regularly and stay hydrated. If that, alone, is not adequate, talk to your doctor about a treatment plan.

Nutrition During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

How should a woman eat when she’s pregnant or nursing? This is a huge question, and I won’t be able to do it justice here. I’ll give the highlights, though.

First of all, macronutrient and micronutrient requirements go up during this time. This is unquestionable, and there’s mountains of data to support it.

A key principle is to avoid severe (and in some cases, even slight) calorie restriction. In metabolically healthy leaner women, Calorie restriction, or a daily shortage of food intake below what the metabolism demands, can stunt the growth of the fetus and compromise the quality of breast milk. It can also compromise the energy and mental focus of the mother.

In fact, pregnant women should eat more calories than they normally would for weight maintenance—around 300 extra calories per day, according to one estimate. Breastfeeding women may need even more —about 500 extra calories per day. These figures, of course, will vary based on a woman’s height, weight, age, and activity level.

As a general rule, fasting for more than 13 or 14 hours while pregnant or nursing isn’t a good idea. The potential for calorie restriction is too high. To put a finer point on it, I do not recommend fasting for pregnant or nursing women in any circumstances.

Similar logic applies to moms eating a keto diet. Keto is extremely effective at reducing hunger, so special care must be taken to avoid undereating. There’s also not a ton of data on keto during pregnancy, so it could make sense to dial up the carbs to 30-40 grams - this can help to restore a bit more glycogen to cells more quickly to help with milk production and can also help to ensure fewer issues with thyroid dysfunction. The latter is something that we have seen infrequently with nursing mothers keeping carbohydrates too low. to boost insulin levels and put your body into “growth mode”.

In terms of macronutrients, protein is the big one while pregnant or breastfeeding. The standard recommendation is to bump up protein about 15 grams per day while pregnant, but this may be too low. While breastfeeding, protein needs will increase above their normal baseline requirements for mom - by 15-30 grams depending upon the individual. This protein increase can help to avoid muscle wasting, but more importantly, it is beneficial for milk quality for baby!

What about vitamins and minerals? Yep, those needs go up too.

In particular, pregnant women need more folate (folic acid) to support rapid cell growth, cell division, and DNA synthesis in the developing baby. Folate deficiencies can lead to neural tube defects in the fetus, such as spina bifida and anencephaly. That’s why prenatal vitamins contain a whopping dose of folic acid.

Pregnant and nursing women also need more:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Niacin
  • Riboflavin
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B12
  • Iron (during pregnancy only)
  • Selenium
  • Zinc

Along with eating a whole-foods diet, consider taking a prenatal multivitamin to address these needs. The multi, however, probably won’t cover your electrolyte bases. More on electrolytes soon.

The bottom line on sports drinks with electrolytes

If you're exercising for less than 90 minutes, you probably don't need to worry about replacing electrolytes as you go. You also do not need additional sugar or carbohydrate to fuel your muscles. You can drink water to replace the fluids, and you'll be able to replace the electrolytes at your next meal.

If you're exercising for less than 90 minutes, you probably don't need to worry about replacing electrolytes as you go.

Endurance athletes may lose 2-3 liters of sweat per hour for several hours in a row. A sports drink can help replenish fluids and also supply a source of carbohydrate fuel for muscles. However, a sports drink may not contain enough sodium to replace losses.

Now, let's consider those who work outdoors&mdasheveryone from military personnel to landscapers to construction workers to bicycle messengers to tour guides. Your level of exertion may not be quite as intense or sustained as an endurance athlete's. Even so, conditions can be extreme, and you may be outdoors for hours on end. Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. If you're not able to eat at regular intervals, you may wish to supplement with an additional source of salt. A salt tablet or a pinch of salt in your water will be helpful.

If your sport or line of work means that you spend many hours a day sweating, you may want to consult with a dietitian or sports nutritionist. It's a good idea to assess your sweat rate and composition and get an individual prescription for fluid and electrolyte replacement.

My thanks to Dr. Kelly Pritchett for sharing her expertise. You can find Kelly on Twitter and Instagram @kpritchettRD or on her coaching website:

And thanks to Phillip for his questions. If you have a question for the show, call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206.


Join the nutrition conversation on Facebook and Twitter. Check out the Nutrition Diva newsletter to get nutrition advice delivered straight to your inbox a couple of times per month. Want to know when new Nutrition Diva podcast episodes drop? Subscribe on Apple, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Best Electrolyte Tablets for Runners

If running in the summer leaves you feeling drained and depleted for the rest of the day, like you just sweat out your last remaining brain cell, there&rsquos a good chance you need to take in more electrolytes. Electrolytes are particles that conduct electricity in water, and they&rsquore vital for normal human body function. Typically, it&rsquos not hard to get enough electrolytes from our food, but when we&rsquore sweating a lot during activity&mdashparticularly in hot weather, for longer than an hour&mdashwe can lose more than we&rsquore taking in. For runners, common signs of an electrolyte imbalance include dizziness, nausea, cramping, and fatigue, though more serious consequences are possible in extreme cases.

The good news is that there are dozens of drink tablets designed to replenish lost electrolytes fast, so you&rsquoll feel recharged after a run instead of headachy and lethargic. Some of them are even pretty tasty, making drinking plenty of water a little easier, as well. Below are quick hits on five electrolytes we love, plus what to know and what to buy. Or scroll deeper to read full reviews of these and others.

Great for long runs and rides

Low in sugar, with a mild taste

Formulated for women who run long

Easy to find, low in sodium

Inexpensive, with plenty of sodium

What You Need

The most common electrolytes lost in sweat during a run are sodium and chloride, with smaller losses of potassium, magnesium, and calcium, says sports nutritionist Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD, RDN, and owner of Active Eating Advice. &ldquoSodium losses can be up to 1,000 milligrams per hour, but can range from 200 milligrams to 12,500 milligrams,&rdquo she says. Sodium chloride (more commonly known as just salt) is important because it helps maintain fluid balance and nerve function, which controls your muscle contractions. Most electrolyte tablets pack anywhere from 200 to 800 milligrams of it to replace some of the salt you lose through sweat.

Low salt can lead to muscle cramps, but so too can low potassium. That&rsquos why most electrolyte tablets include potassium to replace what you&rsquove lost through sweat and maintain fluid balance. The electrolyte mixes we tested here include anywhere from 38 to 400 milligrams of added potassium, though you can also meet your recommended daily amount of 4,700 milligrams through good food choices.

Calcium and magnesium&mdashnecessary to regulate muscle contractions and heart rhythm, maintain good bone health, and help muscles relax&mdashare included in varying degrees in most electrolyte drinks, depending on the brand. Other ingredients that come into play are bicarbonates to delay fatigue, carbohydrates to maintain energy, and even occasionally caffeine for an added kick in the pants. Some, like Nuun Sport, have low calories, low carbs, and use Stevia as a sweetener for shorter runs. Others, like Skratch Sport, include 80 to 100 calories, and plenty of carbs and sugar for powering runs longer than an hour. Each brand has its own formula and recommended use you might want to try a few before you figure out which works and tastes best for you.

When to Take Electrolytes

If you&rsquore running for less than an hour, you can probably get what you need to stay hydrated from water alone, no need for an extra electrolyte drink. But if you&rsquore running for more than an hour&mdashor if, like me, you&rsquore a salty sweater who ends workouts looking like a soft pretzel, with a layer of crust on your skin and clothes&mdashyou should pack an electrolyte tablet to drop into a bottle of water during or after a run. Not only will you better stay on top of your sodium losses, but it&rsquos a more eco-friendly way to hydrate than buying a bottle of sports drink for every long run.

For those of us who run in the heat, being proactive with fluids, carbohydrate, sodium, and potassium before a run can also be helpful, says Bonci. But you&rsquore not limited to electrolyte drinks&mdashyou can do that with a healthy diet, as well. &ldquoFor instance, orange juice with salt added could be consumed before a run,&rdquo Bonci says. &ldquoDuring the run, an electrolyte drink would be advised, and after the run, replace fluid, carbs, sodium, potassium with food and beverages rather than an electrolyte supplement or beverage.&rdquo Whatever your hydration strategy, the important thing is that you drink fluids and replace lost salt so your muscles can perform their best.

How We Tested

We called in a pile of electrolyte tablets and mixes&mdashsome our staff uses regularly, others that are new to us&mdashand used our own experience training in the ungodly Texas summer heat to determine the best. We evaluated them on taste, ingredients, effectiveness, tolerability, and value to come up with this list of best options to drop into a water bottle after your next hot run. Here are our standouts.

Everything you need to know about electrolytes

An electrolyte is a substance that conducts electricity when dissolved in water. They are essential for a number of bodily functions.

All humans need electrolytes to survive. Many automatic processes in the body rely on a small electric current to function, and electrolytes provide this charge.

Electrolytes interact with each other and the cells in the tissues, nerves, and muscles. A balance of different electrolytes is vital for healthy function.

Share on Pinterest When people think of electrolyte, sports drinks often come to mind. However, there is far more to electrolytes than post-exercise refreshment.

Electrolytes are chemicals that conduct electricity when mixed with water.

They regulate nerve and muscle function, hydrate the body, balance blood acidity and pressure, and help rebuild damaged tissue.

The muscles and neurons are sometimes referred to as the “electric tissues” of the body. They rely on the movement of electrolytes through the fluid inside, outside, or between cells.

The electrolytes in human bodies include:

  • sodium
  • potassium
  • calcium
  • bicarbonate
  • chloride
  • phosphate

For example, a muscle needs calcium, sodium, and potassium to contract. When these substances become imbalanced, it can lead to either muscle weakness or excessive contraction.

The heart, muscle, and nerve cells use electrolytes to carry electrical impulses to other cells.

The level of an electrolyte in the blood can become too high or too low, leading to an imbalance. Electrolyte levels can change in relation to water levels in the body as well as other factors.

Important electrolytes are lost in sweat during exercise, including sodium and potassium. The concentration can also be affected by rapid loss of fluids, such as after a bout of diarrhea or vomiting.

These electrolytes must be replaced to maintain healthy levels. The kidneys and several hormones regulate the concentration of each electrolyte. If levels of a substance are too high, the kidneys filter it from the body, and different hormones act to balance the levels.

An imbalance presents a health issue when the concentration of a certain electrolyte becomes higher than the body can regulate.

Low levels of electrolytes can also affect overall health. The most common imbalances are of sodium and potassium.

Symptoms of electrolyte imbalance

Symptoms will depend on which electrolyte is out of balance and whether the level of that substance is too high or too low.

A harmful concentration of magnesium, sodium, potassium, or calcium can produce one or more of the following symptoms:

  • irregular heartbeat
  • weakness
  • bone disorders
  • twitching
  • changes in blood pressure
  • confusion
  • seizures
  • numbness
  • nervous system disorders
  • excessive tiredness
  • convulsions
  • muscle spasm

A calcium excess can also occur, especially in those with breast cancer, lung cancer, and multiple myeloma. This type of excess is often caused by from the destruction of bone tissue.

Signs and symptoms of excessive calcium may include:

  • frequent urination
  • irregular heartbeat
  • lethargy
  • fatigue
  • moodiness and irritability
  • nausea
  • stomach pain
  • vomiting
  • extreme muscle weakness
  • thirst or throat
  • total loss of appetite
  • confusion

As these symptoms can also result from cancer or cancer treatment, it can sometimes be difficult to identify high calcium levels in the first instance.

There are several reasons for an electrolyte imbalance, including:

  • kidney disease
  • not replenishing electrolytes or staying hydrated after exercise
  • prolonged periods of vomiting or diarrhea
  • poor diet
  • severe dehydration
  • an imbalance of the acid-base, or the proportion of acids and alkalis in the body
  • congestive heart failure
  • cancer treatment
  • some drugs, such as diuretics
  • age, as the kidneys of older adults become less efficient over time

An electrolyte panel is used to screen for imbalances of electrolytes in the blood and measure acid-base balance and kidney function. This test can also monitor the progress of treatment relating to a known imbalance.

A doctor will sometimes include an electrolyte panel as part of a routine physical exam. It can be performed on its own or as part of a range of tests.

Levels are measured in millimoles per liter (mmol/L) using the concentration of electrolytes in the blood.

People are often given an electrolyte panel during a hospital stay. It is also carried out for those who are brought to the emergency room, as both acute and chronic illnesses can impact levels.

If the level of a single electrolyte is found to be either too high or too low, the doctor will keep testing this imbalance until levels are back to normal. If an acid-base imbalance is found, the doctor may carry out blood gas tests.

These measure the acidity, oxygen, and carbon dioxide levels in a sample of blood from an artery. They also determine the severity of the imbalance and how the person is responding to treatment.

Levels may also be tested if a doctor prescribes certain drugs known to affect electrolyte concentration, such as diuretics or ACE inhibitors.

Treating an electrolyte imbalance involves either restoring levels if they are too low or reducing concentrations that are too high.

If levels are too high, the treatment will depend on the cause of the excess. Low levels are normally treated by supplementing the needed electrolyte. Various electrolyte supplements are available to purchase online.

The type of treatment will also depend on the severity of the imbalance. It is sometimes safe for an individual’s electrolyte levels to be replenished over time without ongoing monitoring.

However, symptoms can sometimes be severe, and a person may need to be hospitalized and monitored during treatment.

Oral rehydration therapy

This treatment is used mainly for people experiencing an electrolyte shortage alongside dehydration, normally following severe diarrhea.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has approved a solution to be used in oral rehydration therapy that contains:

These are dissolved in 1 liter (l) of water and given orally.

Electrolyte replacement therapy

In more severe cases of electrolyte shortage, the substance can be given to the individual either orally or through an intravenous (IV) drip.

A shortage of sodium, for example, can be supplemented with an infusion of saltwater solution or compound sodium lactate.

An excess can occur if the body loses water without losing electrolytes. In these cases, a solution of water and blood sugar, or glucose, is given.


Some causes of electrolyte shortage, such as kidney disease, cannot be prevented. However, a well-managed diet can help reduce the risk of a shortage. Consuming a moderate amount of a sports drink following physical exertion or exercise can help limit the impact of losing electrolytes in the sweat.

For people that do not require a hospital stay, a doctor may recommend dietary changes or supplements to balance electrolyte concentrations.

When levels of an electrolyte are too low, it is important to include food choices that have high quantities of the substance. Here are some food sources for each of the main electrolytes:

Electrolyte neededSources
Sodiumdill pickles
tomato juices, sauces, and soups
table salt
Chloridetomato juices, sauces, and soups
table salt
Potassiumpotatoes with skin
plain yogurt
pumpkin seeds
collard greens

It is important to have in mind how much of each electrolyte is provided in a food source. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers a useful resource for checking the nutritional content of foods.

Supplements are also an option for managing low levels of an electrolyte. For example, older adults often do not consume enough potassium, and levels may also be reduced by treatments with corticosteroid or diuretic medication. In these instances, potassium tablets can boost the concentration in the blood.

Some sports drinks, gels, and candies have been recommended for restocking levels of electrolytes during and after exercise. These help restore lost sodium and potassium and retain water.

However, these drinks typically contain high electrolyte content and consuming too much can lead to an excess. Many also contain high levels of sugar.

It is important to follow any suggested courses of electrolyte supplementation on an ongoing basis and to stick to the advised treatment plan.

Recommended intake

Consuming the correct amount of an imbalanced electrolyte should lead to an improvement in symptoms. If it does not, further tests may be required to identify any other underlying conditions that may be causing the imbalance.

Normal intakes for some of the most common electrolytes are as follows:

ElectrolyteRecommended intake in milligrams (mg)Recommended intake for people aged over 50 years (mg)Recommended intake for people aged over 70 years
Magnesium320 for men, 420 for women

Electrolytes are a vital part of a person’s chemical makeup, and an imbalance can affect regular function. If you feel faint after a workout, this could be why.

Regular monitoring and consuming electrolytes after intense exercise or sweating profusely can help to preserve levels. Be sure to stay hydrated at all times.

Side Effects of Low Electrolytes

The side effects of electrolyte imbalance (when electrolytes are too high or low, which changes the amount of water in the body) include high blood pressure and the heart having to work harder than normal, according to Harvard Medical School. An electrolyte imbalance can even cause a visit to the emergency department. In a study published in PLOS, 20.5 percent of patients admitted to the emergency department with electrolyte imbalances were actually readmitted with 30 days from discharge due to the long-lasting severity of an electrolyte imbalance.

If you have low electrolytes, you could have the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, dizziness and falling, according to a July 2015 review published in the Internist. If these occur, you should immediately drink electrolyte water and monitor your symptoms. If you start to feel worse, you should contact a medical professional.

Watch the video: Αν κάνετε κρακ στα δάχτυλα σας πρέπει να σταματήσετε αμέσως (May 2022).


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