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Electrolytes

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Updated February 22, 2008

Definition:

Electrolyte is a general term used to describe several different compounds in the body. The term electrolyte originates from the fact that, in the body, these compounds carry an electrical charge, which means they can conduct electricity through the body.

Generally, electrolytes are minerals. Important electrolytes include:

  • Sodium: Regulates fluid balance
  • Potassium: Regulates metabolism
  • Magnesium: Regulates the levels of other electrolytes
  • Calcium: Regulates muscle contraction and heart rhythm
Electrolytes are used for several purposes in the body, but their primary roles are as modulators of energy production/storage/use (i.e., metabolism) and as regulators of total body fluid level.

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