10 Best Electrolyte Powders of 2023 for Hydration
“Hydration is vital to your overall health,” agrees Jennifer Hankenson, MD, a physician in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Yale Medicine and assistant professor of orthopedics and rehabilitation at Yale School of Medicine. In addition to water, your body needs essential minerals to regulate your body’s fluid balance and cellular processes. “These minerals are called electrolytes and include sodium, chloride, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium,” Hankenson explains.
Essentially, she says, “electrolytes work as gatekeepers that regulate cellular activities such as muscle contraction, control of pH balance, and many other important body functions.”
Jackie Nugent, RDN, CDN, a plant-based culinary nutritionist, adds that the human body does a great job of naturally regulating electrolytes, but they can become out of whack when the body’s water levels change. According to the US National Library of Medicine, you should aim to consume the same amount of water as you lose. Too little water will lead to dehydration, and too much will lead to overhydration. “If you’re experiencing a more severe electrolyte imbalance, whether it’s too low or too high, it can have potentially serious negative consequences for your heart rate, because your heart is a muscle after all,” says Nugent.
Tara Collingwood, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD/N, ACSM-CPT, a board-certified sports nutritionist, adds that electrolytes are most often lost through sweat or when fluid balance is disrupted due to other health conditions.
In some of these cases, people may need more than just a tall glass of water. “That’s because when you feel dehydrated, such as from excessive sweating, it means you have an imbalance of electrolytes and fluids in your body, not just fluids,” Nugent explains. “Fluid-electrolyte balance is important for proper hydration.”
That’s where electrolyte powder comes in, which usually comes in individual packets ready to mix with water or another liquid. “It helps replace the electrolytes we’re losing,”* confirms Collingwood.