How much Electrolyte is enough for you?
While all electrolytes play an important role in the body’s functioning, sodium, potassium, and magnesium are my primary focus today.
While many people include calcium when discussing proper electrolyte consumption, the scientific literature has largely agreed on the point that most people get enough calcium from dietary sources, and over supplementing can have very serious side effects. Therefore, I generally leave calcium off my hit list of the most important electrolytes.
It is important to remember that our consumption of these nutrients needs to be properly balanced against one another to ensure we do not drive ourselves into an electrolyte imbalance.
In general, you should be consuming 5,000mg of sodium; 1,000mg of potassium, ideally in the form of potassium chloride or potassium citrate; and 300mg of magnesium, preferably in the form of magnesium malate every day, in addition to what you get from dietary sources.
Be aware that, these are generic ranges… your exact level of optimal electrolyte intake is a multifactorial question.
Things like your age, body mass, daily activity level, the presence of any electrolyte-purging comorbidities, and even where you live can all impact the level of electrolytes that you should consume each day.
However, if you can relate to any of the symptoms described above, there is a good chance your electrolytes are out of balance.
So what can you do? I’m glad you asked!
- Don’t Reach for a Standard Sports Drink
I don’t think anyone should ever consume the sugary sports drinks that line the shelves of your average grocery store or corner bodega.
All of the electrolyte-replacement products on the market today, ironically, do not contain sufficient levels of key electrolytes and are just packed with sugar. It’s best to ignore the catchy marketing campaigns, famous athletes’ endorsement deals, and the sponsorships at sporting events big and small—these drinks are not your friend and should be avoided at all costs!