08 July, 2011
Electrolyte Imbalance and Magnesium
Electrolytes refer to minerals in your body that have an electrical charge. Calcium, magnesium, potassium, chloride and sodium are some of the most common electrolytes. Optimal health requires a balance of electrolytes in your blood and tissues. Your kidneys play an important role in maintaining this balance. Inadequate levels of any one of these minerals, including magnesium, can result in mild to serious symptoms.
To maintain a proper level of electrolytes in your body, the amounts in your blood should fall within a normal level. The normal adult range is 4.4 to 5.5 mEq/L of calcium, 97 to 107 mEq/L of chloride, 3.5 to 5.3 mEq/L of potassium, 1.5 to 2.5 mEq/L of magnesium and 136 to 145 mEq/L of sodium. mEq/L stands for milliequivalents per liter. Too much or too little of any of these minerals in your bloodstream reflects an electrolyte imbalance within your body.
Excessive loss of bodily fluids is the most common cause of electrolyte imbalance. Prolonged sweating, diarrhea or vomiting can increase your risk of developing an electrolyte imbalance. An imbalance can cause a variety of symptoms, including muscle spasm, lethargy, twitching, numbness and weakness. Side effects that are more serious include convulsions, nervous system disorders and bone disorders.
Every organ in your body requires magnesium. This nutrient helps regulate the levels of other minerals, such as calcium, potassium, zinc and copper. Foods that supply magnesium include leafy green vegetables, nuts and whole grains. Calcium and magnesium compete with each other for absorption. Too much magnesium may restrict the absorption of calcium, making it important to maintain the optimal levels of both of these nutrients. The daily recommendation of magnesium for adult males is 270 to 400 mg per day, while adult females should consume between 280 and 300 mg per day. Your kidneys play a major role in regulating magnesium levels, while your intestine is responsible for absorbing the magnesium from ingested foods or supplements.
Hypomagnesemia is an electrolyte imbalance that occurs when serum levels of magnesium measure less than 1.5mEq/L and hypermagnesemia involves levels greater than 2.5 mEq/L. Hypomagnesemia is a type of electrolyte imbalance that is often the result of malnutrition. Individuals with poor diets, such as alcoholics, may be prone to this type of electrolyte imbalance. Hypermagnesemia is less common and usually occurs because of renal dysfunction.
- sestovic/iStock/Getty Images