What Are Electrolytes?

Electrolytes are chemicals in body fluids that form electrically charged particles (ions). The electrical energy needed for many bodily functions is transported by these ions. Electrolytes help regulate the body's fluid equilibrium.

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

Healthline. (n.d.). Electrolytes Food: 25 Foods for Electrolyte Function and More. Retrieved October 4, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-nutrition/electrolytes-food#what-are-electrolytes

Food Sources of Electrolytes:

Sodium - dill pickles, tomato juices, sauces, and soups, table salt

Chloride - tomato juices, sauces, and soups, lettuce, olives, table salt

Potassium - potatoes with skin, plain yogurt, banana

Magnesium - halibut, pumpkin seeds, spinach

Calcium - yogurt, milk, ricotta, collard greens, spinach, kale, sardines

Coconut water is an excellent source of electrolytes and hydration (Kalman et al., 2012).

Milk-based drinks are superior in hydration to carbohydrate-electrolyte drinks (Desbrow et al., 2014).

My recommendation would be to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water a day and eat foods high in electrolytes. If water is not palatable, try coconut water or milk-based drink as a substitute. Milk-based drinks need to be in moderation due to the calorie content.

Desbrow, B., Jansen, S., Barrett, A., Leveritt, M. D., & Irwin, C. (2014). Comparing the rehydration potential of different milk-based drinks to a carbohydrate–electrolyte beverage. Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, 39(12), 1366–1372. https://doi.org/10.1139/apnm-2014-0174

Medical News Today. (n.d.). Electrolytes: Uses, imbalance, and supplementation. Retrieved October 4, 2020, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/153188#sources

Kalman, D. S., Feldman, S., Krieger, D. R., & Bloomer, R. J. (2012). Comparison of coconut water and a carbohydrate-electrolyte sport drink on measures of hydration and physical performance in exercise-trained men. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 9, 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-9-1

RDA of Electrolytes:

Sodium - 2300 mg (except in hypertension 1500 mg)

Chloride - 2300 mg

Potassium - 4700 mg

Magnesium - 360-410 mg

Calcium - 1300 mg

Phosphorus - 1250 mg

US Department of Health and Human Services & US Department of Agriculture. (2015). Dietary Guidelines for Americans: 2015-2020. Eight Edition. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118889770.ch2

**Are electrolytes dangerous if you take in too many in a given day?**

It is unlikely that anyone would take in a toxic amount of electrolytes within a given day, but it is possible to build up with continued use. This can have side effects.

  • Too much sodium, can cause dizziness, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Too much potassium, can impact kidney function, cause arrhythmia, and nausea.
  • Too much magnesium can cause muscle weakness, nausea, dizziness, confusion, heart arrhythmia, muscular and neurological damage.
  • Too much calcium, can lead to fatigue, lethargy, seizures, bone and joint pain.

Hospitality Health ER. (n.d.). Electrolyte Imbalance 101 For the Knowledge Thirsty. Retrieved October 4, 2020, from https://hher24.com/electrolyteimbalance101/

Suggested Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Hypertension:


  • Mediterranean diet following the DASH diet guidelines
    • Daily Servings (Varies) (NHLBI & NIH, n.d.)
      • Grains 6–8
      • Meats, poultry, and fish 6 or less
      • Vegetables 4–5
      • Fruit 4–5
      • Low-fat or fat-free dairy products 2–3
      • Fats and oils 2–3
      • Sodium 1500 mg
    • Weekly Servings (NHLBI & NIH, n.d.)
      • Nuts, seeds, dry beans, and peas 4–5
      • Sweets 5 or less
    • Tips (NHLBI & NIH, n.d.)
      • Eat whole foods - fresh or frozen
      • Meal plan
      • Track your meals and sodium intake with my fitness pal or on paper
        • https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/all-publications-and-resources/whats-your-plate-1800-2000-caloriesday
      • Limit sugar to 25-37.5 g a day
      • Add foods higher in potassium, calcium, and magnesium (Gropper, Smith, & Carr, 2018).
      • Add foods with Omega 3 fatty acids (Gropper, Smith, & Carr, 2018).
  • Reduce dietary sodium to less than 1500 mg per day (NHLBI & NIH, n.d.)
    • Avoid prepackaged foods
    • Read Food Labels
    • Cook at home
      • Don't add salt when cooking
      • Use seasoning blends without salt instead
  • Limit alcohol to two drinks or less per day for men and one drink or less per day for women (Rakel, 2018)
  • Consider 10 to 30 grams per day of 70% cacao dark chocolate (Rakel, 2018)
  • Consider 30 grams per day of flax seed (Rakel, 2018)
  • Consider 30 grams per day of dietary fiber (Rakel, 2018)

Sample Menu


1 ounce (by weight) whole-grain cereal

8 fluid ounces milk

4 ounces strawberries

Coffee, tea (with little or no sugar added)

Midmorning snack

4 ounces light yogurt

20 almonds


Cold cooked skinless chicken breast, with a mixed salad and Vinaigrette

Additional raw veggies per your preference

Water with lime slices

Afternoon or before-dinner snack

1 ounce mixed nuts

4 to 6 ounces light yogurt


3 to 5 ounces grilled salmon

Spinach-Arugula Salad with Nectarines with Lemon Dressing

Water with lemon slices

Other Meal Plan Options:

  • http://www.eatingwell.com/article/289964/7-day-dash-diet-menu/
  • http://www.eatingwell.com/article/288737/7-day-mediterranean-meal-plan-1500-calories/
  • https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/dash-diet/art-20047110
  • https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/public/heart/dash_brief.pdf
  • https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/all-publications-and-resources/week-dash-eating-plan


  • Aim for 30 minutes a day of aerobic exercise (Rakel, 2018)
    • walking, running, bicycling, etc


  • Aim for a weight loss of at least 10 pounds (4.5 kg) if overweight (Rakel, 2018)


  • Maintain a serum 25-OH-vitamin D greater than 40 ng/mL
  • Ensure 1000 mg a day of EPA and DHA by fish or krill oil
  • Consider CoQ10 to achieve a serum level > 2.0 μg/mL
  • Consider absorbable magnesium at 6 mg/kg.

BOTANICAL (Rakel, 2018)

  • Consider a trial of garlic at 4000 mcg allicin or 1.2 mg of S-allylcysteine
  • Consider the tonifying effect of hawthorn 750–1500 mg per day

MIND-BODY (Rakel, 2018)

  • Manage stress and build resilience with 20 minutes daily of one or more of the following: Mind-body, Biofeedback, Transcendental Meditation, Yoga, Qi gong, & Tai chi.
  • Use the Driven App to help with these activities.

Gropper, S. S., Smith, J. L., & Carr, T. P. (2018). Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism (7th ed.). Cengage Learning. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1753-4887.1997.tb01621.x

NHLBI & NIH. (n.d.). DASH Eating Plan. Retrieved October 4, 2020, from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/dash-eating-plan

Rakel, D. (2018). Integrative Medicine (Fourth). Elsevier.

*These statements are not meant to diagnose or treat. You should consult your health care provider before starting any new diet, exercise, or supplement.