What is electrolyte
What Is Electrolyte

What Is Electrolyte: Definition, 5 Types, and Functions

You may often hear television commercials promoting electrolyte solution products. Typically, the product’s ads show people exercising, or feeling thirsty.

Actually, what is electrolyte? What do electrolytes do to the body?

What Is Electrolyte?

Electrolytes are particles that manifest into negatively and positively charged ions, when soluble in water.

Because it has such a charge, electrolytes can produce electrical reactions. Electrical reactions in ions have an important role in various systems of the human body.

In the human body, electrolytes are contained in blood, sweat, and urine. We can also obtain electrolytes from certain foods.

Electrolyte types

Here are the types of electrolytes and their sources.


Sodium (Na) is a type of mineral element that acts as an electrolyte. In bodily fluids, Sodium is an ion with a positive charge. The daily sodium needs of older persons is 1.5 grams. Sodium can actually not only be obtained from the consumption of salt.

There are many other foodstuffs that have sodium content. Generally, sodium is found in processed products such as cheese, bread, oatmeal, flakes and soy sauce. Sodium also contained in sauce, or tomato juice

Sodium has many important ingredients for the body, it is the main positive ion found in extracellular fluids. Then, sodium also serves to regulate nerve transmission, muscle contraction, maintain alkaline acid balance in the body, regulate blood pressure and homeostatic volume.

When a person has a sodium deficiency eating, there will be hyponatremia, muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, loss of consciousness, shock and even coma. While people who consume excessive sodium will experience high blood pressure or hypertension.


Potassium (K) is a type of electrolyte that has ions with a positive charge. Daily potassium needs for older persons is 4.7 grams. Types of potassium source foods include bananas, oranges, milk, yogurt, broccoli and carrots.

The role of potassium in the body is as the main positive ion found in intracellular fluid, transporting glucose into cells, aiding the transmission of nerve impulses, aiding muscle contraction, especially the heart muscle.

When a person has potassium deficiency, hypokalemia, cramps in the muscles, irregular heartbeat, and loss of consciousness will occur. Whereas if a person is over-intake of potassium, hyperkalemia will occur and heart function is inhibited.

Other Types

  • Chloride, which you can find in tomatoes, olives, lettuce and kitchen salt
  • Calcium, which can be found in spinach, kale, milk and sardines
  • Magnesium, contained in vegetable spinach and pumpkin seeds.

What is electrolytes functions?

Keeping the Nervous System Working

The brain sends electrical signals through nerve cells, so that intercellular communication throughout the body can occur.

These signals are called nerve impulses. This signal is generated by changes in the electrical charge that exists in the membranes of nerve cells.

Sodium is an electrolyte that plays a role in this nervous system. The movement of sodium electrolytes in nerve cell membranes, makes changes in the electrical charge.

Helps muscle contractions

Calcium and magnesium are the electrolytes needed for the process of muscle contraction. Calcium makes muscle fibers move with each other as muscles shorten and contract.

Meanwhile, magnesium is needed so that muscles can relax, after contractions.

Keeping the body hydrated

When you feel dizzy when thirsty, it’s a sign the body is already lacking fluids.

Electrolytes, especially sodium play a role to maintain fluid balance, this process is called osmosis.

Osmosis occurs when water moves from a solution with less electrolyte (diluted), to a solution containing more electrolytes (more concentrated), through the cell membrane wall.

Maintaining the body’s pH

Solutions that are in nature, including in the body have a certain level of acidity. Acidity levels are measured using a pH scale.

The normal pH scale for blood is 7.35-7.45. A balanced electrolyte concentration will also maintain the pH scale or acidity of the blood.

Changes in the pH scale, although small, can make the body unable to function properly.

Last Updated on February 4, 2021 Reviewed by Market Health Beauty Team

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