What do muscle cramps, obesity and chocolate cravings all have in common?
They are all strongly linked to an electrolyte deficiency… Before we begin the crash course I would just like to say: try not to get too bent out of shape over the recommendations… They were taken from government guidelines and we all know what happens when you adopt their way of eating…
Let’s do this.
- Adequate electrolyte levels are vital for the proper functioning of the digestive, nervous, cardiac, and muscular systems. - Electrolytes are what your cells use to maintain voltages across their cell membranes and to carry electrical impulses across themselves and to other cells. - Electrolytes are vital for nerve impulses and muscle contractions, along with being necessary for a wide variety of roles within the body. - Your kidneys work to keep the electrolyte concentrations in your blood constant despite changes in your body. - When you exercise heavily, you lose electrolytes in your sweat; these electrolytes need to be replaced to keep the electrolyte concentrations of your body fluids constant.
The 4 major electrolytes are: Sodium, Magnesium, Calcium and Potassium…
Sodium: what it does... - Sodium is a mineral that is vital for the proper functioning of your body. The primary source of dietary sodium is sodium chloride, or salt. - Ions of sodium, potassium and chloride trigger muscle contractions and nerve impulses when they shift places across cell membranes. - Sodium also works with potassium to maintain normal water balance in the body. Each of the minerals chemically attracts water to itself, ensuring that optimal levels of hydration are maintained both inside cells and outside cells, in the extracellular spaces that surround them. - Closely related to sodium’s role in the maintenance of normal fluid levels is the part it plays in controlling your body’s blood volume and, therefore, blood pressure. Your body constantly monitors sodium concentrations and blood volume; if either blood volume or sodium levels get too high, your body stimulates your kidneys to excrete excess sodium, returning blood volume to normal levels.
Sodium: deficiency symptoms... Unlikely, however; Hyponatremia may occur when sodium plasma levels fall below 130mM, below 125mM seizures can occur followed by a coma… Other symptoms include confusion, low blood sugar, weakness, lethargy and heart palpitations.
Sodium: recommendations… Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): average daily level of intake sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97%–98%) healthy individuals. 18-50 Male and Female 2300mg 51+ Male and Female 1500 mg Under 18s, pregnancy and lactation, consult your doctor. **The guidelines also recommend a maximum intake of 1,500 milligrams for people of any age who are African-American or who have hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease**
Sodium: where you can get it… Salt, meat and, apparently, courgettes are good sources… Who knew?
Magnesium: what it does… - Magnesium is a cofactor in over 300 enzyme systems that regulate many different biochemical reactions in the body, including protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation - Magnesium is required for energy production, oxidative phosphorylation, and glycolysis. - It contributes to the structural development of bone and is required for the synthesis of DNA, RNA, and the antioxidant glutathione. - Magnesium is vital for the active transport of calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes, a process that is important to nerve impulse conduction, muscle contraction, and normal heart rhythm.
Magnesium: deficiency symptoms… Progressive muscle weakness and neuromuscular dysfunction. Mild hypomagnesaemia in severely ill people and those with malabsorption disorders. Other symptoms include fatigue, obesity, epilepsy, coronary heart disease, and, weirdly, cravings for chocolate…
Magnesium: recommendations… Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): average daily level of intake sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97%–98%) healthy individuals. 19-30 Male 400mg Female 310mg 31-50 Male 420mg Female 320mg Under 18s, over 50’s, pregnancy and lactation, consult your doctor.
Magnesium: where you can get it… Good usable sources include meat, seafood, nuts, dairy, and organic vegetables… [soil depletion leads to nutrient deficient produce… Go organic / homegrown wherever possible]
Calcium: what it does... - Maintains strong bones and teeth. - Vital for blood clotting. - It is used to help blood vessels move blood throughout the body, and to help release hormones and enzymes that affect pretty much every function in the human body. - Necessary for the transmission of information via the nervous system, intracellular signalling, and control of muscle contraction
Calcium: deficiency symptoms... Poor bone density... Because of its relationship with Vitamin D, rickets and osteomalacia… Fainting, heart failure, chest pains, muscle cramps and spasms, tingling fingers and toes, psoriasis, tooth decay, coarse hair, brittle nails, depression… To be honest, heart failure was enough…
Calcium: recommendations… Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): average daily level of intake sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97%–98%) healthy individuals. 19 - 50 Male and Female 1000mg Under 18s, over 50’s, pregnancy and lactation, consult your doctor.
Calcium: where you can get it… The best sources of usable calcium are from dairy and bone broths. Other sources include meats and vegetables, however, this can be difficult to absorb…
Potassium: what it does… - Potassium is the primary electrolyte located inside the body's cells (intracellular) and stored in muscle fibers along with glycogen - It plays a critical role by helping transport glucose into the muscle cell. - Potassium also interacts with both sodium and chloride to control fluid and electrolyte balance and assists in the conduction of nerve impulses.
Potassium: deficiency symptoms… Hypokalaemia. Other symptoms include weak muscles, muscle cramping, lack of energy, abnormal heart rhythms, mental confusion, a slight rise in blood pressure, and in extreme cases, heart failure…
Potassium: recommendations… Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): average daily level of intake sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97%–98%) healthy individuals. 19-50 Male and Female 4700mg 51+ Male and Female 4700mg Under 18s, over 50’s, pregnancy and lactation, consult your doctor
Potassium: where you can get it… Good sources include nuts, grains and vegetables.
Others… There are three other macrominerals: chloride, phosphorous and sulphur. These are still needed in relatively large amounts but for some reason they are rarely mentioned… I couldn’t even find anything in the Essentials Of Human Nutrition…
You can find chloride in salt, phosphorus in meat and nuts [giggity], and sulphur in meat and dairy.
Summary… - Don’t worry too much about the recommendations… There are enough people out there already worrying about their electrolyte balance -Gillian McKeith does that, and she sifts through s*** as a hobby - don’t be that person. - The human body is amazing - it has systems in place to deal with excess macrominerals… [Unless something is horribly wrong, in which case, find a doctor…] - Eat a balanced, varied diet... Seriously, that’s the best and easiest place to start to tick off most health boxes. You can find my step by step instructions on the members page - you genuinely can’t f*** that up… [You need to be a member…] - If it’s hot, add a little more salt to your food. - A source of dairy won’t kill you paleo types... Most people are fine with yoghurt, but if you are genuinely intolerant, bone broths are the way forward. - If you’re into high intensity stuff and eating ‘clean’ or ‘paleo’, electrolyte powders / tablets are a good idea… They’re pretty cheap and usually come in good ratios ready to be absorbed. - If you are eating a balanced and varied diet and still cramping up / showing any signs of a deficiency, you could also look into buying electrolyte powders / tablets… - Finally, if you are obese and craving chocolate it could be a magnesium deficiency… It could be… But it could also be other stuff… I’m just saying that sitting in a magnesium bath might not be the thing that finally gets you in shape…
“Sit the f*** down and have a beer…”
~ Coach Collins
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