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Electrolytes

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Electrolyte is a scientific term for salts, specifically ions. The term electrolyte means that this ion is electrically-charged and moves to either a negative or positive electrode. Ions that move to the negative which are called cations are positively charged and Ions that move to the positive which are called anions are negatively charged. They can be divided into acids, bases, and salts, because they all give ions when dissolved in water. Electrolytes are present in the human body, and the balance of the electrolytes in our bodies is essential for normal function of our cells and our organs. Electrolytes are important because they are what your cells, especially nerve, heart and muscle use to maintain voltages across their cell membranes and to carry electrical impulses such as nerve impulses and muscle contractions across themselves and to other cells. The major electrolytes that are in our body are as follows: sodium (Na+), potassium (K+), chloride (Cl-), calcium (Ca2+), magnesium (Mg2+), bicarbonate (HCO3-), phosphate (PO42-), sulfate (SO42-).
Sodium is an abundant metallic element which is an important mineral for all living organisms. It is also widely used industrially to make an assortment of consumer goods. In a pure form, sodium is a soft, silvery gray, highly reactive metal. Pure sodium is usually stored in a nonreactive substance, as it oxidizes rapidly when exposed to air, quickly forming a thick coating. The soft metal appears in an abundance of compounds, such as sodium chloride, better known as salt. It also exists in high concentrations in seawater, and it is among the 10 most abundant minerals in the Earth's crust. The chemical element of sodium is also highly explosive when exposed to moisture and water. It is the major positive ion in fluid outside of cells. Na+, the chemical notation for sodium is a reference to a Latin word natrium, used to refer to a specific type of salt. Sodium's atomic number is 11, placing it among other lightweight chemical elements.It was first isolated in 1807 by Sir Humphrey Davy, an extremely active chemist who managed to identify and isolate a wide range of chemical elements. Davy achieved this isolation by passing an electric current through a compound of sodium to separate the elements. Sodium regulates the total amount of water in the body and the transmission of sodium into and out of individual cells that also plays a role in critical body functions. Many processes in the body, especially in the brain, nervous system, and muscles, require electrical signals for communication. The movement of sodium is critical in generation of these electrical signals. Too much or too little sodium therefore can cause cells to malfunction, and extremes in the blood sodium levels can be fatal. Hypernatremia in the blood occurs whenever there is excess sodium in relation to water. There are numerous causes of hypernatremia which may include kidney disease, too little water intake, and loss of water due to diarrhea or vomiting. Hyponatremia occurs whenever there is a relative increase in the amount of body water relative to sodium. This happens in relations to some diseases of the liver and kidney, in patients with congestive heart failure, in burn victims, and in numerous other conditions. "American dietary practices cause the average person to carry 8000 mg. excess sodium in the extra-cellular tissues. "http://www.causeof.org/electrolytes.htm#WhatAreDesc. "Sodium can come from natural sources or be added to foods. Most foods in their natural state contain some sodium. However, the majority of sodium that Americans consume comes from sodium added to processed foods by manufacturers. While some of this sodium is added to foods for safety reasons – the amount of salt added to processed foods is clearly above and beyond what is required for safety and function of the food" supply." http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4708 Major food sources of sodium include: Tomato sauce, Soups, Condiments, Canned foods, Prepared mixes.
Potassium is a mineral that is found in many foods and is needed for several functions of your body, especially the beating of your heart. Potassium is a very important mineral for the proper functioning of all cells, tissues, and organs in the human body. It is also an electrolyte, a substance that conducts electricity in the body, along with sodium, chloride, calcium, and magnesium. Potassium is crucial to a proper heart function and plays a key role in skeletal and smooth muscle contraction, making it important for normal digestive and muscular function, too. Many foods contain potassium, including meats, fishes, and many fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Dairy products are also good sources of potassium. Having too much potassium in the blood is called hyperkalemia; having too little is known as hypokalemia. Keeping the right potassium balance in the body depends on the amount of sodium and magnesium in the blood. In Western diets it is common to use a lot of salt which may increase the need for potassium. Diarrhea, vomiting, excessive sweating, malnutrition, malabsorption syndromes can also cause potassium deficiency. The most important use of potassium is to treat the symptoms of hypokalemia, which include weakness, lack of energy, muscle cramps, stomach disturbances, an irregular heartbeat, and an abnormal EKG. Hypokalemia is usually caused by the body losing too much potassium in the urine or intestines; it's rarely caused by a lack of potassium in the diet. Hypokalemia can be life-threatening and should always be treated by a doctor. Hyperkalemia, on the other hand, is common in people with kidney disease. The kidneys help clear waste products and excess minerals out of the body, so potassium tends to build up when the organs aren’t doing their job well. It’s also possible to develop hyperkalemia by taking large doses of potassium supplements. Severe injuries or burns that rupture cells and release their potassium stores can cause hyperkalemia as well. People at risk for hyperkalemia have to be very careful to limit potassium in their diet. Only a registered dietitian can steer them towards healthful meal plans that contain relatively small amounts of potassium.
Magnesium is a very light metal and only calcium and the alkali metals are lighter. This low density is used to advantage in alloys like magnalium, which is 10% magnesium and 90% aluminum. Magnesium reacts with boiling water to form magnesium hydroxide and hydrogen gas. Magnesium is a key component in chlorophyll, the molecule in green plants which helps transform sunlight and carbon dioxide into water and sugar. Magnesium is the final member of the big elements in the Earth's crust, being the eighth most abundant element. It is an antidote to stress and the most powerful relaxation mineral. Scottish chemist Joseph Black recognized magnesium as an element in 1755 and it was first isolated in England by Sir Humphrey Davy in 1808. The name "Magnesium" originates from the Greek word Magnesia, a district of Thessaly. Magnesium powder is an explosive hazard. The bright white light plus ultraviolet from burning magnesium can cause permanent eye damage. Magnesium is the second most important intracellular cation and is involved in a variety of metabolic processes including glucose metabolism, ion channel translocation, stimulus-contraction coupling, stimulus secretion coupling, and peptide hormone receptor signal transduction. http://www.chemicool.com/elements/magnesium.html Magnesium is required for the proper growth and maintenance of bones. Magnesium is also required for the proper function of nerves, muscles, and many other parts of the body. In the stomach, magnesium helps neutralize stomach acid and moves stools through the intestine. Large doses might cause too much magnesium to build up in the body causing serious side effects including an irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, confusion, slowed breathing, coma, and death. Early signs of magnesium deficiency include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and weakness. As magnesium deficiency worsens, numbness, tingling, muscle contractions and cramps, seizures, personality changes, abnormal heart rhythms, and coronary spasms can occur. Severe magnesium deficiency can result in low levels of calcium in the blood known as hypocalcemia. "A recent study showed that, "Mice given extra doses of a new magnesium compound had better working memory, long-term memory and greater learning ability. Before you go popping heavy doses of magnesium, however, know that much more testing is needed. Though rodent brains work similarly to ours, animal studies do not always predict what will happen in humans." http://www.livescience.com/health/magnesium-brain-boost.html. Green vegetables such as spinach are good sources of magnesium because the center of the chlorophyll molecule contains magnesium. Some legumes, nuts and seeds, and whole, unrefined grains are also good sources of magnesium. Refined grains are generally low in magnesium. Tap water can be a source of magnesium, but the amount varies according to the water supply. Water that naturally contains more minerals is described as "hard" water which contains more magnesium than "soft" water.
Phosphorus is in column VA of the periodic table, between nitrogen and arsenic, neither of which it resembles. Phosphorous is a multivalent nonmetal of the nitrogen group. It is found in nature in several allotropic forms, and is an essential element for the life of organisms. There are several forms of phosphorous, called white, red and black phosphorous. White phosphorous is the one manufactured industrial; it glows in the dark, is spontaneously flammable when exposed to air and is deadly poison. Red phosphorous can vary in colour from orange to purple, due to slight variations in its chemical structure. The third form, black phosphorous, is made under high pressure, looks like graphite and, like graphite, has the ability to conduct electricity. Read more: http://www.lenntech.com/periodic/elements/p.htm#ixzz0il8XXHld. The amount of phosphorous that is naturally present in food varies considerably but can be as high as in liver or can be low, as in vegetable oils. Foods rich in phosphorous include tuna, salmon, sardines, liver, turkey, chicken, eggs and cheese. Phosphorus in its pure form has a white color which is the most dangerous form of phosphorus. When white phosphorus occurs in nature this can be a serious danger to our health because it is extremely poisonous and in many cases exposure to it can be fatal. Before people die from white phosphorus exposure they often experience nausea, stomach cramps and drowsiness. White phosphorus can cause skin burns and while burning, white phosphorus may cause damage to the liver, the heart or the kidneys. In the natural world phosphorous is never encountered in its pure form, but only as phosphates, which consists of a phosphorous atom bonded to four oxygen atoms. This can exists as the negatively charged phosphate ion (PO43-), which is how it occurs in minerals, or as organophosphates in which there are organic molecules attached to one, two or three of the oxygen atoms. In the oceans, the concentration of phosphates is very low, particularly at the surface. The reason lies partly within the insolubility of aluminum and calcium phosphates, but in any case in the oceans phosphate is quickly used up and falls into the deep as organic debris. There can be more phosphate in rivers and lakes, resulting in excessive algae growth. Phosphates are important substances in the human body, because they are a part of DNA materials and they take part in energy distribution. Phosphorus was first isolated in 1669 by Hennig Brand, a German physician and alchemist, by boiling, filtering and otherwise processing as many as 60 buckets of urine. Thankfully, this is not the case now. Red phosphorus is formed by heating white phosphorus to 250°C (482°F) or by exposing white phosphorus to sunlight. Red phosphorus is not poisonous and is not as dangerous as white phosphorus, although frictional heating is enough to change it back to white phosphorus. Red phosphorus is used in safety matches, fireworks, smoke bombs and pesticides. Black phosphorus is also formed by heating white phosphorus, but a mercurycatalyst and a seed crystal of black phosphorus are required. Black phosphorus is the least reactive form of phosphorus and has no significant commercial uses. About 85% of phosphorus in the body can be found in bones and teeth, but it is also present in cells and tissues throughout the body. Having too much phosphorus in the body is actually more common and more worrisome than having too little. Too much phosphorus is generally caused by kidney disease or by consuming too much dietary phosphorus and not enough dietary calcium. As the amount of phosphorus you eat rises, so does the need for calcium. The delicate balance between calcium and phosphorus is necessary for proper bone density and prevention of osteoporosis.
It is essential for the development and maintenance of strong bones and teeth, the location of about 99% of the body's calcium. Calcium helps the heart, nerves, muscles, and other body systems work properly. It is probably best known for its effects in preventing osteoporosis. Your body needs several other nutrients in order for calcium to be absorbed and used properly, including magnesium, phosphorous, and especially vitamins D and K. Calcium deficiency can be found in people with malabsorption problems, such as Crohn's disease, celiac disease, and surgical intestinal resection. "One large, well-designed study showed that women who took 1,200 mg of calcium per day reduced their symptoms of PMS by 50%, including headache, moodiness, food cravings, and bloating. A smaller study suggested that calcium may help reduce menstrual pain." It is important to get plenty of calcium in the foods you eat. Foods rich in calcium include diary products such as milk, cheese and yogurt, and leafy, green vegetables. The exact amount of calcium you need depends on your age and other factors. Growing children and teenagers need more calcium than young adults. People who do not eat enough high-calcium foods should take a calcium supplement. Hypocalcemia is frequently encountered in patients who are hospitalized. Presentations vary widely, from asymptomatic to life-threatening situations. Hypocalcemia varies from an asymptomatic biochemical abnormality to a life-threatening disorder, depending on the duration, severity, and rapidity of development. Hypocalcemia is caused by loss of calcium from or insufficient entry of calcium into the circulation. It may be transient, permanent, or intermittent. Chronic moderate hypocalcemia may be completely asymptomatic. Acute hypocalcemia causes increased neuromuscular irritability, underlying the most prominent symptoms. Hypercalcemia is a condition in which the calcium level in your blood is above normal. You need calcium for bone formation. It also plays an important role in contracting muscles, releasing hormones, and ensuring that your nerves and brain function properly. High calcium levels, however, can interfere with these processes. The main cause of hypercalcemia is overactivity in one or more of your parathyroid glands, which regulate calcium. Post-menopausal women are most likely to develop hypercalcemia caused by overactive parathyroid glands. Other causes of hypercalcemia include cancer, certain other medical disorders, some medications, and excessive use of calcium and vitamin D supplements. Signs and symptoms of hypercalcemia may range from nonexistent to severe. Treatment depends on the underlying cause.
Chloride constitutes approximately 0.15% of human body weight. It is primarily found in cerebrospinal fluid and gastrointestinal secretions. Chloride is present in small amounts within bone. It is the major anion in plasma and interstitial fluid, where it aids in the maintenance of osmotic pressure and electrolytic balance. Chloride is essential for the production of hydrochloric acid, which is secreted from the parietal cells of the stomach, and vital in maintaining the proper acidic environment for pepsin. Chloride is essential in maintaining the acid/base balance of the body fluids. It is essential in buffering the acid/base fluctuations which occur during carbon dioxide uptake and release in red blood cells. It is also influential in the conservation of potassium, which is inefficiently resorbed by the body. Chloride is absorbed primarily in the intestine and secreted through urine, sweat, vomit, and diarrhea. Most of the chlorides are crystalline salts, and many will dissolve in water. Silver chloride, mercurous chloride, and lead chloride, however, are nearly insoluble. Sodium chloride, or common salt, is the most useful of the chlorides. Magnesium Chloride is used in disinfectants, fireproofing, refrigerating brines, paper and fabric sizing, and in many industrial processes. Mercuric Chloride is used in photography and in dry batteries. Calcium Chloride is used as a drying agent. Silver Chloride is used in photography. Ammonium Chloride is used in medicine, in metal-plating, batteries, and fertilizers. Aluminum Chloride is used in deodorants and petroleum manufacture, and as a catalyst. The amount of chloride decreases when the amount of sodium in the blood decreases, and vice versa. The level of chloride in the blood is also related to the level of bicarbonate. When the amount of bicarbonate decreases, the amount of chloride normally increases, and vice versa. A test for chloride is usually done on a blood sample taken from a vein. Tests for sodium, potassium, and bicarbonate are usually done at the same time as a blood test for chloride. Test is done to evaluate the electrolyte balance in the body. Too little chloride can cause muscle twitching, muscle spasms, or shallow breathing.Deficiency of chloride alone leads to contraction of extracellular fluid volume and metabolic alkalosis which, in turn, leads to a deficiency of potassium by increasing urinary excretion of potassium. Too much chloride can be associated with rapid deep breathing, weakness, confusion, and coma.Excessive levels of chloride can increase the risk of hypertension in certain individuals. Increased chloride intake can also cause fluid retention, but this is primarily caused by the sodium contained in salt. Chloride has no known toxicity factor at this time, since excess chloride is excreted from the body. A daily intake of more than 14 to 28 grams of salt is considered excessive. Generally speaking, most people will not be at a risk for chloride deficiency as we eat too much salt in our foods anyway and salt is composed of sodium and chloride. It is only in illness or infection that people become deficient, not just in chloride, but in all the electrolytes. Bicarbonate is a chemical that keeps the pH of blood from becoming too acidic or too basic. Bicarbonate is not usually tested by itself. It may be done on a blood sample taken from a vein as part of a panel of tests that looks at other electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, and chloride. It is often done along with a carbon dioxide test or as part of an arterial blood gas test. For an arterial blood gas study, the blood sample is taken from an artery. A bicarbonate test helps find and keeps track of conditions that affect blood bicarbonate levels, including many kidney diseases, some lung diseases, and metabolic conditions. Bicarbonate is present in all body fluids (see table) and organs and plays a major role in the acid-base balances in the human body. The mucus membrane of the human stomach has 30 million glands which produce gastric juice containing not only acids, but also bicarbonate. In the stomach, bicarbonate participates in a mucus-bicarbonate barrier regarded as the first line of the protective and repair mechanisms. On neutralization by acid, carbon dioxide is produced from bicarbonate. For digestion, bicarbonate is naturally produced by the gastric membrane in the stomach. This production will be low in alkaline conditions and will rise in response to acidity. In healthy individuals this adaptive mechanism will control the pH perfectly. It is quite possible that bicarbonate in water may play a buffering role in the case of people sensitive to gastric acidity. Thus bicarbonate may be helpful for digestion. Bicarbonate also reduces the acidity of dietary components such as proteins. As an example, adding sodium or even more potassium bicarbonate to subjects on a high protein diet known to acidify urine and leading to hypercalciuria (high level of calcium in urine) has been shown to greatly reduce calcium urinary excretion. Many oral hydration solutions contain bicarbonate showing the usefulness of bicarbonate to control water absorption in patients at risk of dehydration. Bicarbonate has been shown to decrease dental plaque acidity induced by sucrose and its buffering capacity is important to prevent dental cavities. Physical exercise can imply the production of lactic acid, leading to the acidification of pH in blood and muscle. When cycling, running, swimming, rowing and weightlifting exercise performance is increased by sodium bicarbonate ingestion. "Researchers found a link between the severity of some forms of cystic fibrosis and the ability of a key protein to move particular molecules -- bicarbonate ions -- across cell membranes."
Scnerio 1: Lack of calcium and phosporous
Mrs. Martha is an old asian widow who lives on my street. Her husband passed away two years ago and since then she's been living by herself with three cats. Ever since her husbands' death she has lost alot of weight and is very thin. I recently noticed that she comes in her front lawn couple of times a day and smokes now. When I went up to talk to her she told me that she had also been taking some medicine prescribed by her doctor for a while now. When I suggested that she should excersize she claimed that she was too week for it. Two months later while trying to water her plants she fell and broke her coxal bone. When she went to the hospital she then found out that she had osteoporosis. Since her husbands death she had stoped eating healthy and not taking any calcium in her body including milk. Her everyday activites and the lack of phosporous and calcium were the result of osteoporosis which play a stong role in keeping your bones healthy.
Scenario 2: Lack of magnesium
Nurse Jackie works in the hospital in the psych unit. Her shift starts from 7 in the morning and ends at 3 in the afternoon. Ever since she switched her evening shift to the morning shift, she's been having trouble concentrating on her work, dozing off and ofter cramping. She always complains that she didn't get a good night sleep and was tossing and turning all night. When suggested to go sleep an hour or two she said that even after trying that she's been feeling restless. When going to the doctor she found out that she was lacking magnesium. Since the change in her everyday shcedule, her diet had changed too. Instead of eating a healthy breakfast everyday containing whole unrefined grains and nuts she would stop by the gas station and grab a cup of coffee and a bagel. For lunch and dinner her vegetable intake had also changed and she was eating a lot of unhealthy prossesed food and eating out four times a week. The doctor told her sleep for those with magnesium deficiency is restless, agitated and disturbed by frequent nighttime awakenings. So to get back on track Jackie would have to get the proper magnesium intake.
Scenerio 3: Exessive sodium
As Mr. Lee went to the visit his doctor after the trouble he had been going through he found out he had Cirrhosis. He had been experiencing abdominal pain, itchiting, and feeling fatiged for a while now. His doctor explained to him that if he didn't take any action fast he would be facing alot of problems including jaundice, bruising and bleeding, and living cancer. When talking to Mr. Lee, the doctor found out that his diet consisted off food that are extremely high in sodium. He told Lee that the one of the first steps he needs to take is lessen his sodium intake which will make him feel better and lower his risk of fluid buildup in the abdomen and also suggested that he goes and sees a nutritionist to help him get started on find more ways to cut down on salt and eat a healthful diet.
Scnerio 4: Lack of potasium
Twenty two year old shane was living a normal life until he started getting conscious about his weight. He got so involved with it that he would vomit after every meal so he wouldn't gain weight. He was soon diagnosed with Bulemia. His family tried to get all the help they could get for him. When they took him to the doctor, the doctor said that he was also hypokalemia metabolic disorder that occurs when the level of potassium in the blood drops too low. Since he was vomiting everthing up none of the nutrients were getting stored in his body and his nerver and muscle cells were going to have problem functioning properly. Shane decided to go to a rehab center and get help. Couple of months later he was getting all the potasium and other nutrients he needed and his body was doing great again.

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