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the science of electrolytes

Facts About Electrolytes

3-25-2015 *Updated as of this date

When salts are dissolved in water, they separate into electrically charged particles called ions. Because these charged particles can conduct an electric current they are known as electrolytes. As an example, table salt, or sodium chloride separates in water to form sodium and chloride ions.

In the human body, electrolytes are present in the body fluids; either surrounding the cells of the body (extracellular fluids) or are within the cell walls (intracellular fluids). The six major electrolytes include sodium, potassium, calcium, chloride, magnesium and phosphorus.

Sodium, potassium and chloride are the major electrolytes found in the body fluids (extra-cellular). They are involved in at least four important psychological functions of the body: (1) maintenance of normal water balance and distribution. (2) maintenance of normal osmotic (pressure) equilibrium between the extracellular and intracellular fluids, (3) maintenance of normal pH balance of body fluids and (4) maintenance of normal nerve and muscular functions.

The average adult generally ingests sufficient electrolytes, in the diet to maintain the body’s needs; however, there are situations in which these needs are not completely met. Individuals who do moderate to heavy work or who engage in active athletics or exercise, especially in a hot climate and under hot conditions, may find themselves suffering from the effects of electrolyte imbalance such as fatigue, weakness and cramps as a result of excessive electrolyte loss due to sweating.

Sweating is the normal way by which the body cools itself. The average person will eliminate approximately 1 liter of sweat per day by what is termed insensible perspiration- that is, no sweat is visible on the skin. Insensible perspiration is relatively free of electrolytes. However, under elevated temperature conditions or during vigorous physical exertion, as would be encountered by athletes or individuals engaged in hard manual labor, significant quantities of visible sweat are produced. An athlete can lose up to 5 lbs. of weight during marathon running or a tennis match.

Although the composition of visible sweat is largely water, significant amounts of electrolytes are lost as well – particularly sodium, chloride, and potassium. It is essential that electrolytes be provided to replace those lost directly from the blood and other body fluids. In the absence of a suitable means of replacement of electrolytes and water, the body readjusts its perspiration output and composition to guard against dehydration. The end results are impaired performance, increased fatigue, cramps and, possibly, heat prostration.

“A new study of electrolyte tablet supplementation in half-marathon participants has demonstrated significantly improved performance by more closely maintaining electrolyte balance.”

Sustained Release ElectrolytesThe predominant method of replacing electrolytes has been the use of electrolyte solutions. However, most solutions usually contain unnecessary ingredients such as sugar, artificial colors, and imitation flavors. They may also be inconvenient to use, since they require mixing and dispensing (usually in special containers) and the carrying around of heavy containers. Another important disadvantage of commercial electrolyte solutions is their cost.

Replace™SR is a combination of electrolytes in a sustained release electrolyte tablet form. It offers an inexpensive, convenient and efficient way to replace electrolytes during periods of moderate to heavy physical exertion. The sustained release characteristics provide a continual release of electrolyte salts as the body needs them and reduces the likelihood of high localized concentrations and gastric distress. The electrolyte replacement tablets releases electrolytes gradually as they are needed and one does not have to wait to replace them after completion of physical activity.

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Electrolyte Replacement Tablets

Each Replace™SR electrolyte replacment tablet supplies the following electrolytes: sodium and potassium chlorides, magnesium citrate and monosodium phosphate. The latter salt provides additional sodium without increasing chloride, as well as phosphate (also found in body fluids) which buffers the final product. Carnauba and/or rice bran wax (vegetable waxes) and mono and diglycerides (edible fat derivatives) are used to give Replace™SR electrolyte replacement tablets their sustained release properties.

One to three Replace™SR electrolyte replacement tablets should be taken with a full glass of water about one half hour before engaging in physical activities. This helps build up the body’s electrolyte reserves.

At intervals during the exercise period, it is important to drink adequate amounts of water in order to replace the water loss due to perspiration. In general, drink according to thirst.

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