As physicians we often find ourselves remind people to “Stay Hydrated!” There are so many reasons this is important. Sometimes it’s because people are feeling weak, fatigued, lightheaded or having frequent headaches. On other occasions we are reminding people that hydration is important for immunity, fighting off illness and important bodily functions such as cardiovascular health and kidney function.
Drinking Water is not enough
People often, respond saying, “I drink tons of water!” then they hold up their water bottle that they carry around all day. And we respond, “That’s not enough.” So if water is not enough to stay hydrated, what is? It turns out that another key component of hydration is getting the proper electrolytes.
So what vitamins and supplements can you take for hydration?
- Potassium– This essential electrolyte helps power your muscles to function optimally. This includes not only the muscles you use to walk around and be active, but also things like your heart. Potassium is useful to take in limited quantities as a part of an occasional supplement but not in very high doses as it can cause serious side effects if too much is taken.
- Sodium– Whiles salt is something people think they must avoid to stay healthy, it turns out that many of us actually need extra salt at times. When we sweat or have a temperature we loose salt in great quantities. When we have low blood pressure or avoid processed foods we may actually need more sodium.
- Magnesium–Is an essential electrolyte that many people benefit from on a daily basis and when dehydrated. Magnesium plays a key role in hydration, muscle function, heart health and more. It can be an important part of a custom daily vitamin (take our vitamin quiz here) and an extra supplement for hydration.
- Chloride- This key nutrient is often included in vitamins and supplements for hydration. Combined with sodium it helps the body hold on to vital fluids.
Supplements for hydration
It is not commonly recognised that our bodies need more than just water to stay optimally hydrated. Our blood stream actually uses electrolytes to hold onto the water we consume. Through the process of osmosis, water moves to areas that have great concentration of electrolytes. Without them, the bloodstream essentially becomes diluted. Sodium and potassium help regulate just about every essential bodily function. They do this by powering your cells to work properly. Magnesium is also an essential electrolyte for dehydration that helps your body properly hold onto the potassium it needs.
Most good hydration supplements include vital electrolytes such as magnesium. The kidney regulates this complicated orchestra of electrolyte levels. However, it cannot hold on to potassium if magnesium stores are low. On a day to day basis we often get enough potassium and sodium through our food. However, heavy exercise or sweating due to heat will deplete these electrolytes. Also, diets free of processed food and added salt can actually leave you without enough sodium stores in your body. Extreme cases of low sodium can even be life threatening. Potassium is essential for muscle strength and function. Low potassium also causes weakness, fatigue and in severe cases cardiac arrest. Magnesium deficiency can minimise the ability to replenish these other vital nutrients. A hydration supplement containing magnesium can help your body hold on to potassium as well.
For these and other reasons, daily magnesium supplementation is useful. Magnesium should be part of a good custom daily multivitamin (take our personalised vitamin survey in order to get your all in one custom vitamin). If magnesium levels are optimal your kidneys can better hold onto other essential electrolytes when needed for dehydration.
Other useful electrolytes…
Sodium, potassium and chloride also need replacement from time to time. Plain water is not enough to do that. In cases of dehydration, the emergency room does not just give you water in the IV fluids, rather a blend of electrolytes and water. We can all learn from this and push electrolytes ahead of time to avoid dehydration. Beverages like Gatorade contain some of these electrolytes but it is often in combination with loads of sugar and other artificial additives. Hydration supplements such as Power Up™ are a more direct and effective way to ingest vital electrolytes before and after a workout (without any added sugar or caffeine).
Starting a daily magnesium as part of a custom vitamin regimen may be helpful. On days you exercise you should make an extra effort to get enough sodium, chloride and other nutrients in addition to water. This will help you find optimal health and feel your best. Find out what vitamins you should take with our personalised vitamin quiz.
Hydration Updates in 2022:
While not a lot has changed as far as our needs for hydration, there are lots of new gimmicks available on the marketplace. Many are pushing IV forms of hydration. While useful in extreme medical conditions, we never endorse getting intravenous forms of hydration or vitamins that is not administered as a part of legitimate treatment in a medical setting. This is both unnecessary, costly, invasive and can have risks associated with it, depending on what the products contain (think heart arrhythmias, infections and more). Another new trend is Alkaline water. While this is touted for having health benefits to “remove acidity” from the body, there seem no legitimate medical evidence to support these claims. It is also plausible that drinking this type of water reduces natural body acidity that is useful for killing certain bacteria in the body.
Romy Block specialises in Endocrinology and Metabolism and is mother to three active adolescent boys. Arielle Levitan is a Doctor of Internal Medicine with a special interest in Preventive Medicine and Women’s Health. She is a mother of three teenagers. As professional women with active family lives, they recognise that people often neglect their own health needs and are uncertain about what vitamins to take. Each person is different in her diet, exercise and health history, and will benefit from different nutrients. After years of advising their patients about the proper vitamins to take, Drs. Block and Levitan created Vous Vitamin® to provide people everywhere with quality vitamins that are suited to their individual needs. They are authors of the award winning The Vitamin Solution: Two Doctors Clear Confusion About Vitamins and Your Health (She Writes Press, 2015). Take your vitamin survey now to get exactly the right vitamins for your needs.
The statements made in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products offered by Vous Vitamin® are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Nothing contained herein is intended to be a diagnosis or constitute medical advice. The symptoms described in this Blog may be a result of a serious medical condition which requires medical treatment. You should consult with your doctor if you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned in this Blog and before beginning any vitamin or supplement regimen.