The Power of Water With Electrolytes: Why Your Body Needs Them

A woman sipping out of a reusable water bottle

Most are well aware that hydration is critical for your health. Research tells us that adequate water consumption helps regulate body temperature and blood pressure; not to mention boost your mood, memory, and productivity. But does adding electrolytes to water take its benefits to the next level? 

Read on to explore how electrolytes can enhance your hydration experience.

What Are Electrolytes?

Electrolytes are minerals that become charged when they dissolve in water. Your body absorbs electrolytes from the foods and fluids you consume. These minerals, like sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, spread throughout your body, using their electrical energy to support crucial bodily processes. According to MedlinePlus, electrolytes help to:

  • Balance the amount of water in your body
  • Balance your body’s pH level
  • Move nutrients into your cells
  • Move wastes out of your cells
  • Regulate your nerves, muscles, heart, and brain functionality
  • Rebuild damaged tissue

Sports drinks and electrolyte-infused waters often target athletes in their marketing campaigns. This is because, during exercise and sweating, individuals lose essential electrolytes that need replenishing. However, maintaining a proper balance of electrolytes isn’t just crucial for athletes; it’s essential for everyone. Electrolytes are vital for basic bodily functions like walking, breathing, and even thinking. Without enough electrolytes in our brains, nerve cell communication is compromised.

Drinks That Commonly Contain Electrolytes 

If electrolytes are important for adequate hydration, where can you find them? Below are some of the most typical sources of electrolytes in beverages:

  • Sports drinks: Specifically formulated to replenish electrolytes lost during intense physical activity, these drinks often contain sodium, potassium, and other minerals. However, they also include a lot of added sugar. 
  • Milk: Believe it or not, milk naturally contains a good balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and electrolytes. This can make it a good choice for hydration and recovery post-exercise.
  • Coconut water: This natural beverage is packed with electrolytes like potassium, magnesium, sodium, and calcium, making it a great hydration choice.
  • Electrolyte-enhanced water: Drinking water fortified with electrolytes hydrates more effectively than regular water. 

The Risks of Electrolyte Imbalance

The human adult body is composed of up to 60% water. Even a slight decrease in this percentage can impair vital bodily functions, according to the United States Geological Survey. When dehydration occurs, electrolytes play a crucial role in regulating hydration levels. Under certain conditions, electrolyte levels in the blood can drop too low, leading to an imbalance. Medical News Today reports that such imbalances can adversely affect health, manifesting in symptoms like:

  • Fatigue
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Muscle weakness and cramping
  • Headaches
  • Convulsions

An electrolyte imbalance is often the culprit behind dehydration. That’s why it’s essential to maintain hydration levels, especially during exercise, illness, or exposure to high temperatures — when fluid loss is more significant. While regular water intake is important to prevent dehydration, replenishing lost fluids with electrolyte water is best. Let’s take a closer look at why below. 

Regular Water vs. Electrolyte Water

Plain water is drinking water without any added flavors, sugars, or minerals. However, it may naturally contain small amounts of minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, depending on its source. Studies from the National Library of Medicine reveal that drinking enough water throughout the day is crucial for maintaining hydration because it:

  • Replenishes bodily fluids lost through everyday activities
  • Supports the body’s natural ability to regulate temperature
  • Aids in digestion
  • Facilitates the removal of waste products

Ultimately, plain water directly supports all bodily functions, making it fundamental for overall health. However, the trace minerals in plain water may not be enough to support a long-term electrolyte balance — especially if you’re dehydrated. Research shows that 75% of Americans don’t drink enough water, so it’s worth exploring more hydrating options.

That’s where electrolyte water comes in. This water, sometimes referred to as mineral or alkaline water, contains minerals with electrical charges — such as sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Interestingly, even seawater naturally contains electrolytes in the form of various salts. However, drinking salt water isn’t recommended; instead, achieving the right balance of minerals is key to promoting health. 

Electrolyte water is specifically formulated to enhance hydration and support bodily functions by providing optimal concentrations of essential electrolytes. Unlike sports drinks, which often contain excessive sugar and calories, electrolyte water focuses on maximizing hydration without unnecessary additives.

Dispelling Common Electrolyte Water Myths

Electrolyte water has garnered a spotlight in the realm of hydration. But, this focus has been accompanied by a mix of misconceptions. Several prevalent myths suggest that electrolyte water:

  • Is only needed by athletes: It’s easy to assume that only athletes or those engaging in extreme physical activities need electrolyte water. But in reality, everyone, regardless of their activity level, can benefit from balanced electrolyte intake. This supports essential bodily functions like muscle contraction and nerve signaling. 
  • Leads to electrolyte imbalances: There’s a widespread belief that electrolyte water can lead to overhydration or electrolyte imbalances. However, for the average person consuming it in moderation, electrolyte water enhances hydration more effectively than plain water — replenishing minerals lost through daily activities. 
  • Is high in sugar and calories: Some presume all electrolyte waters are high in sugar and calories, like many sports drinks. Yet, numerous electrolyte-enhanced water options are calorie-free and without added sugars. They solely emphasize mineral replenishment. 

Remembering these misconceptions is key to understanding the role electrolyte water can play in enhancing your daily hydration levels.

What Are the Benefits of Electrolyte Water?

Here’s a closer look at the advantages of drinking electrolyte-enhanced water:

1. Promote Hydration

When you engage in physical activity, your body loses water through sweat, requiring you to replenish fluids. Even minimal water loss of 1–2% of your body weight can result in reduced strength, speed, energy, and focus. Sweat also contains electrolytes, notably sodium, along with small amounts of potassium, calcium, and magnesium.

To replace the electrolytes lost through sweat, it’s recommended that you opt for electrolyte-enhanced water instead of regular drinking water during exercise. This supports your heart, brain, muscle, and nervous system function.

2. Support Nervous System Function

Even a slight decrease in hydration can lead to reduced cognitive abilities, diminished concentration and alertness, and slower reaction times. At 3% dehydration, your reaction time equals that of someone with a blood alcohol content of .08%. This is because your nervous system is a complex network of nerves and specialized cells transmitting signals from the brain to the body. Common electrolytes play an integral role in that communication process. 

Here’s a closer look at what some of these minerals support:

  • Sodium: Initiates the electrical impulses your nerve cells require for proper communication
  • Potassium: Neutralizes the nerve cell so that it can reinitiate subsequent electrical impulses
  • Magnesium: Allows for the effective transmission of electrical impulses

Ensuring your diet includes sufficient minerals is essential for supporting ongoing brain function. Fortunately, drinking electrolyte-enhanced water is an easy way to meet your daily electrolyte needs.

3. Rehydrate During Illness

Vomiting and diarrhea are often not serious in the short term. Yet, if severe or ongoing, they can lead to dehydration quickly unless lost fluids and electrolytes are replenished. At the onset of illness, doctors suggest drinking water enhanced with electrolytes to prevent dehydration. Sports drinks, while similar, have a lot of sugar and are not recommended because the sugar could aggravate the illness. However, if a sports drink is diluted with an equal part of water, it might be more tolerable.

An electrolyte drink might not suffice for treating serious dehydration. If the illness continues for more than 24 hours or if keeping fluids down becomes impossible, seek medical advice.

4. Prevent Heat Stroke

Being in hot conditions can expose you to various heat-related illnesses, from heat rash to heatstroke. Normally, your body cools itself by releasing heat through your skin and sweating. But in hot weather, research reveals that this cooling mechanism can start to break down, leading to dangerously high body temperatures. To prevent heat-related illnesses, limit your exposure to heat. Equally crucial is staying hydrated and replenished with electrolytes to help your body maintain a cool temperature, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

For staying hydrated in the heat, water enhanced with electrolytes is advised over other drinks. Why? Because it replaces the essential electrolytes lost through sweating. Keep in mind that sugary and caffeinated beverages like sodas, coffee, tea, and alcohol can make dehydration worse, per Medical News Today.

5. Alleviates Muscle Cramps

Research from Edith Cowan University reveals that electrolyte water can help prevent and alleviate muscle cramps — especially during strenuous physical activity or in hot weather. This is because electrolytes like potassium and magnesium facilitate muscle contraction and relaxation. By replenishing these minerals, electrolyte water can reduce the likelihood of muscle cramps and promote smoother muscle function.

7. Improves Digestion

Adequate hydration with electrolyte water can support proper digestion by maintaining optimal fluid balance in the body, according to Birmingham Gastroenterology. Electrolytes help regulate the movement of fluids and nutrients across cell membranes, aiding in the absorption and transportation of nutrients in the digestive system. What’s more, staying hydrated can prevent constipation. This means consuming electrolyte-enhanced water as part of a balanced diet ultimately contributes to better digestive health and overall gastrointestinal function.

Get Electrolyte-Enhanced quenchWATER+ To Feel the Difference in Your Workplace 

If you’ve been looking for a way to access water with electrolytes on demand, Quench can help. quenchWATER+ is our Quench-branded, mineral-infused, and electrolyte-enhanced alkaline water — brought to you through our Quench bottleless water coolers.

Our proprietary 5-filter setup uses state-of-the-art filtration technology to produce the cleanest water through activated carbon and reverse osmosis (RO) filtration. Then, the water passes over compressed minerals in our Mineral+ filter to add back a blend of sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and other healthy trace minerals, leaving you with an amazing-tasting electrolyte drink.

Whether your employees are working in a hot warehouse, gym members are exercising, patients are recovering in a hospital, or anything in between, Quench has your hydration needs covered. Our bottleless water coolers eliminate the hassle of stocking, storing, and ordering 5-gallon plastic jugs or single-use bottled water, offering a win-win solution: keeping your employees hydrated while contributing to environmental sustainability.

Learn more about quenchWATER+ or try our product finder. Ready to get started? Get a free estimate today!