Electrolytes and hydration

Woman drinking Skybright Performance Electrolytes from water bottle.

Electrolytes and hydration

Hydration should be simple. If you feel thirsty, drink some water. But while drinking enough water on a daily basis can be half the battle against dehydration, electrolytes, carbohydrates and other minerals are important when it comes to helping your body to retain fluids and to promote recovery.

Staying hydrated is important to keeping yourself healthy, helping your both your mental and physical performance. Chronic dehydration is common, and if you suffer from severe vomiting, diarrhea, or fever, mineral and electrolyte imbalances can occur that can compromise your health. 

Drinking water is especially important as we get older. At birth, our body is about 75 to 80% water. By the time you’re an adult, the percentage drops to approximately 60%. The volume of water in your body continues to decrease as you age.

Man drinking Skybright Performance Electrolytes from water bottle.
Drinking water is especially important as we get older.

With our increased consumption of distilled, filtered or purified water, coupled with the depletion of minerals from the soil used to grow the fruits, vegetables and grains we eat, it is harder to get the nutrients our body needs to function properly. That is why we often need to supplement our water with added electrolytes to optimise our hydration, enable our muscles to function properly and convert our food to energy. 

A simple remedy is to add sea salt to your water, which contains sodium obviously, but is also enriched with iodine and other minerals found in sea water. You can also try coconut water, which contains a variety of electrolytes and is low in sugar. If it’s more than water you’re after, cow’s milk is a rich supply of electrolytes, and also contains carbohydrates and protein, which will help muscle recovery and refuelling after a workout. Try to avoid commercial sports drinks that are marketed as electrolyte drinks, but are often packed with sugar, flavours and other filler ingredients that can actually be detrimental to your health.

Woman running
Sodium and chloride are the main electrolytes lost in sweat.

The key electrolytes 

Electrolytes are the charged substances that result when dissolved in water. These positive and negatively charged ions can conduct electricity, and are therefore referred to as “electrolytes.” The most important electrolyte for the human body is salt — also known as sodium chloride — but the body also uses potassium, and magnesium to regulate its recovery process.

Sodium and chloride

Sodium and chloride are the major extracellular electrolytes in the human body, sodium providing the positive charge and chloride the negative charge. In addition to providing balance to one another, these ions are essential for maintaining blood volume and pH (Schauss). Sodium and chloride are the main electrolytes lost in sweat. Outdoor activities such as long-distance running, cycling and construction work will require replacing not only fluids but also electrolytes (especially sodium and chloride) to maintain a healthy balance.

Therefore, adding sodium and chloride to the water of individuals who regularly sweat a lot will not only replace the these essential electrolytes, but will also help maintain proper blood osmolality, assuring thirst and kidney mechanisms to maintain adequate blood volume and hydration (Maughan and Shirreffs, 1997). 

Potassium

Potassium works with sodium, magnesium and calcium to support the regulation of normal blood pressure, proper heart rhythm, blood sugar regulation and transmission of nerve impulses. It is necessary for cellular contraction and for the proper balance and delivery of glucose into cells.

The normal functioning of the human body depends on an intricate balance of potassium and sodium concentrations. Potassium plays a critical role in nerve impulse transmission, maintaining cellular fluid volume and pH, muscle contraction, heart function and tissue growth and repair. 

Additionally, potassium helps our body hold onto calcium, while excessive sodium leads to both potassium and calcium loss.

Magnesium

Magnesium is involved in over 300 enzyme actions in the body. It is necessary for supporting normal heart function, nerve impulse transmission, muscle relaxation and calcium management. 

Symptoms of deficiency include muscle tiredness, stress and anxiety, mood imbalance, tension and fatigue. Magnesium can support a restful night’s sleep and can help alleviate muscle cramps at night. 

We need a large amount (more than 100mg) of magnesium per day to keep healthy. But it can be hard to get enough magnesium since it is not as prevalent in our diet as other nutrients. Our water supply is often lacking in this mineral, and significant food sources such as green leafy vegetables and legumes are not as prevalent in our diet as they used to be.

These key electrolytes are involved in countless activities essential for life, including energy production, heart rhythm, nerve transmission and muscle contractions. The human body is great at self-regulation and has a number of mechanisms in place to maintain proper electrolyte balance, but if you’re exercising often, working in hot environments or prone to sweating a lot, you may need to take more of these key electrolytes on board, as well as drinking water, to stay properly hydrated.

Man cycling and cooling himself from water bottle
If you’re an athlete or you exercise often, or in hot conditions, you’ll need to add minerals and electrolytes to your water to replenish what’s lost in sweat, which will enable a faster recovery.

How much water should you drink per day?

The amount of water we need can vary by individual, but it’s generally recommended to drink between 8-10 glasses, or more than 2 litres of water a day. Some people require more or less fluid for hydration depending on various factors, such as body mass, food intake, how much they exercise and the intensity of the training, temperature and other environmental conditions.

Drinking plain water on its own isn’t the most effective way to hydrate. When compared to other beverages like orange juice and milk, our bodies aren’t able to retain plain water as well.

Woman drinking Skybright Performance Electrolytes from water bottle
Some people require more hydration depending on factors such as body mass, food intake, how much they exercise and the intensity of the training, temperature and other environmental conditions.

Macronutrients and electrolytes play a role in helping our body absorb and retain any of the water we take in. If you’re trying to stay hydrated, drink your water with a meal or a snack so that there are other nutrients present to help you retain more of the water.

Keep a track of how much water you drink, or fill up a large (reusable) water bottle or two to sip on. It serves as a constant reminder throughout the day. If you’re an athlete or you exercise often, or in hot conditions, you’ll need to add minerals and electrolytes to your water to replenish what’s lost in sweat, which will enable a faster recovery.

It’s also best to spread out your water consumption to help your body with absorption. Start your morning off with a glass of water, maybe with added sea salt and lemon, and make sure you’re consistently drinking water throughout the day. Consistency is key; it’s not a good idea to drink more than a litre in an hour since your kidneys can only remove about a litre of water per hour from the body. Drinking too much water can also lead to what is known as hyponatremia, a condition where the sodium levels in the blood become dangerously low.

For athletes, optimal hydration will help with performance and recovery. For everyone else, hydration is key to health and wellness, and simply feeling good.

Skybright Performance Electrolytes. 50 servings per bottle. No sugar, more energy.
Skybright Performance Electrolytes. No sugar, more energy.

Summary

As we increasingly drink filtered or purified water, and consume convenient, processed foods, we are struggling to meet our body’s need for electrolytes, both for performance, and everyday health and wellbeing. This combined with the depletion of minerals from the soil in which we grow our food, has even seen imbalances and dehydration in people who eat a wholefood diet, drink water and lead a healthy lifestyle. Be sure to add things like leafy greens, tomatoes, watermelon and cucumbers, which contain a high water content, this will all count toward your fluid intake and help to restore and replenish electrolytes.

By making good habits with hydration, drinking water enriched with electrolytes, and including more water-rich fruits and vegetables in your diet, you can avoid dehydration and the negative impacts it can have on your health.

Sources:
Schauss, Alexander G. Minerals, Trace Elements, & Human Health. Life Sciences Press. 1995
Maughan, R. J. and S. M. Shirreffs (1997). “Recovery from prolonged exercise: restoration of water and electrolyte balance.” J Sports Sci 15(3): 297-303.
Rhoades, R. and R. Pflanzer (1996). Human Physiology. Ft Worth, Saunders College Publishing.

Disclaimer:
The information in this article is not intended as a medical prescription for any disease or illness. Nothing stated here should be considered medical advice. Use as directed. If symptoms persist, consult your healthcare professional. 

A to Zinc: A handy guide

A to Zinc

Acne: Zinc is an important component for healthy skin, and in particular for sufferers of acne. It can control the production of oil in the skin and help balance some of the hormones that can lead to acne. Many skin disorders can be attributed to insufficient zinc.

Bioavailability: The bioavailability of zinc from grains and plant foods is lower than that from animal- based foods such as lean red meat and poultry, although many grain and plant-based foods are still good sources of zinc.

Common Cold: Much research has been done around zinc and its capacity to combat the common cold. Although studies examining zinc treatment on cold symptoms has shown varied results over years, it appears to be beneficial under certain circumstances. The Cochrane Report concluded that taking it within 24 hours of developing symptoms and has been shown to reduce the severity and duration of cold symptoms in healthy people by up to a third. It does this by directly inhibiting the rhinovirus binding and replicating and suppressing inflammation.

Depression: Virtually every enzyme reaction in the brain involves zinc, and low levels have been linked to anxiety and depression.

Eyesight: Research has suggested that zinc and antioxidants may delay the progression of age- related macular degeneration and vision loss, possibly by preventing cellular damage in the retina.

Food sources: Lean red meat is an excellent dietary source, and it is also highly bioavailable, meaning your body can absorb it much more readily. Poultry, nuts, seeds, and lentils are other good sources. Green leafy vegetables and fruits contain modest amounts of zinc.

Grains: Wholegrain breads, cereals and other grains contain zinc, but these foods also contain phytates, which can bind zinc and therefore inhibit its absorption. While these plant-based options are good dietary sources, the bioavailability is often lower than animal-based products.

Hair loss: In severe cases zinc deficiency can cause hair loss and a dry flaky scalp.

Immune system: Zinc is needed for the proper functioning of the immune system, and enables protein synthesis and cell growth.

Job: Zinc is often seen as the gatekeeper for your immune system, to ward off bacterial and viral infections like the common cold.

Kids: Zinc supports normal growth and physical development during pregnancy, and this continues through childhood and adolescence.

Low zinc content in our soils: Plants, like our bodies, cannot make minerals. They instead extract them from the soil. Like many other mineral and trace elements, if they are lacking in the soil they will be lacking in the plants we eat or the animals that are grazing the fields and providing our much-need protein. If certain crops aren’t rotated, it can seriously deplete the soils of these minerals, leading to deficiencies in our diet.

Magnesium: Both zinc and magnesium help protect the brain and the eyes from excitotoxin additives that are common in foods today. In New Zealand, deficiency of both of these minerals is common due to soil depletion.

Nutrients: As well as being involved in hundreds of processes within the body, zinc helps us absorb and utilise nutrients from our food.

Oysters: Oysters contain more zinc per serving than any other food.

RDI for zinc is higher for pregnant and lactating women.

Pregnant women: Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers may require bigger intakes, as there are high foetal requirements for zinc, and lactation can also rapidly deplete mineral stores. For these reasons, the RDI for zinc is higher for pregnant and lactating women, and supplementation is often recommended.

Quote: “Just about all skin disorders improve if you build up your zinc stores.” Dr Robert Atkins

RDI (Recommended Daily Intakes): Common RDIs for zinc are as low as 5mg for a child, 7mg for a teenage girl, 13mg for a teenage boy. For adult woman it is 8mg, increasing to 12 mg when breastfeeding or pregnant, and 14mg for adult males.

Stress: There is evidence that zinc levels decrease following physical stress or injury. It is one of the few minerals lost in the urine following acute or chronic physical stress.

Taste test: There is a simple test you can take to measure your zinc status, which can often be provided by your local health shop. It involves taking a tiny amount of zinc sulphate, dissolving it in water and then tasting as little as a spoonful. This test works because zinc is required for your taste buds to function. If you notice a bitter, astringent taste you are not deficient. If this bitter taste is delayed by more than a few seconds, you need more zinc in your diet. If there is a much longer delay or if you don’t notice the bitterness or it tastes like water, you may have a deficiency and will need to restore your zinc levels.

Ultimate nutrient: Zinc is responsible for hundreds of processes within our brain and our body, and is one of the most important minerals for our health throughout our life. There are more roles in the body for zinc than any other nutrient.

Vegetarians often require as much as 50% more of the RDI for zinc.

Vegetarians: Vegetarians often require as much as 50% more of the RDI for zinc than non-vegetarians. Zinc can be sourced from whole-grain breads, cereals, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes, but these foods also contain phytates, which can bind zinc and therefore inhibit its absorption. While these plant-based options are good dietary sources, the bioavailability is often lower than animal- based products.

Vitamin C: With the help of vitamin C, zinc has been used in research into improving age-related macular degeneration (AMD). After an average follow-up period, supplementation with antioxidants plus zinc (but not antioxidants alone) significantly reduced the risk of developing advanced AMD and reduced visual acuity loss.

Wound healing: Zinc is critical for wound healing, whether it is a small cut, or helping the skin recover from surgical procedures. It also helps prevent scar formation.

EXcessive zinc: A over-large intake of zinc may result in side effects with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Intake of 50 to 150 milligrams per day of supplemental zinc may cause minor intestinal distress occurring within three to 10 hours after ingestion. Single doses of 225 to 450 milligrams of zinc usually cause nausea and induce vomiting.

Yellow fungus growth on toenails: Many skin disorders are related to insufficient zinc, including abdominal stretchmarks after childbirth, split fingernails with white specks, as well as yellow toenails and/or fungus growth.

Zinc: There are more roles for zinc than any other nutrient. It is one of the most important elements for our health yet one of the most deficient in our diet, especially here in New Zealand. This is due to the quality of our soils and the impact of the foods we eat, and the water we drink.

Disclaimer:
The information in this article is not intended as a medical prescription for any disease or illness. Nothing stated here should be considered medical advice. Use as directed. If symptoms persist, consult your healthcare professional. 

Remineralise: Put back what’s missing

Woman drinking water with Skybright Concentrated Mineral Drops added.

Remineralise – and put back what’s missing from our food.

Over the past few months, many of us have taken the chance to evaluate our lifestyle and our health and wellbeing, especially with regard to strengthening our immune system and enhancing our ability to fight off infections during the winter months.

Getting enough sleep, exercising often and eating a balanced, whole-food diet are all important factors in nurturing our health, for both mind and body. But often we’re lacking important minerals, that are not present in either the foods we eat, or in the water we drink. 

This is due to intensive farming techniques, which strip these minerals from the soil in which our food grows. If the minerals are not in the soils in the first place, they will not be present in the plants and therefore in the food we eat. Many of us drink filtered or bottled water, which removes the essential minerals and trace elements we need, as well as unwanted pathogens and toxins that make it safe for drinking.

These practices can lead to mineral deficiencies, which then lead to common complaints such as fatigue, irregular heartbeat, depression, and sleep issues. This also ultimately compromises our immune system, and makes us vulnerable to infections and illnesses.

Skybright Remineralise: we need to put back the minerals and vitamins that are missing from our food.
Remineralise: we need to put back the minerals and vitamins that are missing from our food.

The importance of minerals.

In today’s modern, fast-paced society, supplying our bodies with the minerals they require is difficult. The lives we lead often put increasing demands on our stores of the nutrients. The harder we push ourselves, the more we need. In times of stress, our body uses more vitamin B, vitamin C and magnesium and zinc in particular.

Minerals such as such as magnesium, potassium, iodine and selenium are the catalysts for all the vitamins and other nutrients your body uses for developing and maintaining good health.

Every second of every day the human body relies on these minerals and other trace elements to conduct and generate billions of tiny electrical impulses. Without these impulses, not a single muscle, including your heart, or your brain would be able to function.

Think of your body like a circuit board. Ionic minerals conduct electricity throughout the body, bringing energy where it needs to go in order for each cell and system to work. Without these minerals, your heart couldn’t beat, your muscles couldn’t contract, your brain couldn’t function and your body couldn’t absorb nutrients.

The human body cannot produce minerals like calcium and magnesium as they cannot be made by living organisms. We have to obtain them from the food we eat, or the water we drink. Obtaining them from water is optimal, as it helps with the bioavailability of these minerals, enabling them to be more effectively absorbed into our system. 

“Soil is the basis of all human life and our only hope for a healthy world… all of life will be healthy or unhealthy according to the fertility of the soil”

Dr. Alexis Carrel, (1873-1944) winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1912

New Zealand soils and mineral deficiencies.

As a country, New Zealand is still very young, and it has young soils. Where once they were rich in nutrients, our agriculture and farming over the years has stripped the topsoil of important trace minerals and elements. 

With the use of common fertilisers, there has been an increase in the growth rate of foods and an increase in yields, but we’ve also seen a steady decline in the nutritional value of the foods we eat over the past decades. This has lead to well-known deficiencies in our soils, including selenium, iodine, zinc, chromium and boron. 

Up to 91% of New Zealanders are said to be deficient in iodine, an essential trace element that supports energy production and plays an important role in supporting immune function. The biggest groups at risk are pregnant mothers and people with autoimmune issues. You can get iodine from seaweed or miso soup or by simply adding sea salt to your drinking water or sprinkling it onto your food. 

Selenium levels are also low in New Zealand soils. It’s estimated that many of us are only getting as little as 10-20% of the daily amount we require. Selenium is an antioxidant and also supports immune system function, as well as reproductive health, mood, thyroid function and cardiovascular health. Often supplementation is required but you can get it from eating beef, fish or a few brazil nuts.

Zinc is an important trace mineral, especially in New Zealand due to soil depletions. It’s a a powerful antioxidant, and great for skin, eye and hair health. Seafood is a rich source of zinc, as well as red meat. Studies suggest that supplementing with zinc may have the potential to improve immunity in the elderly, and in healthy individuals with marginal zinc deficiencies, supplementation can enhance the immune response, and may reduce the length of the common cold.

Producers are paid on the weight of their produce rather than how mineral rich the vegetables and fruit are. The processing of foods, such as peeling, extracting, heat-treating and early picking for storage and transportation across the country can further diminish the nutrient value in the foods we eat.

Until we are able to put trace minerals back into the soil through regenerative agriculture and sustainable farming, we must look to other methods to obtain the full spectrum of minerals and trace elements that we need for optimal human health.

In our efforts to drink ‘pure water’ this filtration eliminates the harmful substances, but also removes the important trace elements and minerals we need every day.

The water we drink.

Water can and should be a significant source of trace minerals and elements that can maintain our health and wellbeing. 

With concerns about the quality of public water supply in some areas of New Zealand, we often resort to drinking bottled water or filtered water, (reverse osmosis, distilled) which can eliminate virtually every mineral the body requires to maintain good health. In our efforts to drink ‘pure water’ this filtration eliminates the harmful substances, but also removes the important trace elements and minerals we need every day. Reverse osmosis water filters can also harbour harmful bacteria if not adequately maintained.

We need to remineralise.

Eating a plant-rich diet, while essential for good health, isn’t enough on it’s own to provide you with all the minerals and nutrients you need, as modern farming has stripped the soils of its mineral content. This has lead to significant deficiencies across the population which are increasing with our modern lifestyles, added to the prevalence of processed and convenience foods, and an ageing population.

Eat organic and seasonal where you can, eat leafy greens with every meal or at least daily. Grow your own if you have the space at home or shop at local farmers markets to ensure freshness as well as supporting the local producers and economy. 

We are all aware of the need to reduce, reuse and recycle, but with regard to nutrition, we need to rebalance, replenish and remineralise. Minerals and trace elements are vital to our everyday health and wellbeing. We need them to strengthen our immune system, stave off infections and feel more energised.

Adding minerals like sea salt or liquid mineral drops which contain more than 70 minerals and trace elements to your drinking water may be the best place to start to feel good and get back into balance. These little changes are easy to implement into your daily routine and can make a big difference to your health.

Disclaimer:
The information in this article is not intended as a medical prescription for any disease or illness. Nothing stated here should be considered medical advice. Use as directed. If symptoms persist, consult your healthcare professional.