Electrolytes are things like sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. They're used in your body to carry electrical impulses and use and maintain voltages across cell membranes.
Electrolytes are lost through fluid - vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, malnutrition and dehydration. Sound familiar, eh?
Under normal, healthy conditions, the body keeps electrolyte levels balanced, but when purging, over-exercising, or poor nutrition become extreme, the nervous system, heart, and whole body can be affected.
Fatigue, muscle weakness, nausea, and headaches are just the beginning of the effects of electrolyte imbalance...extreme conditions may lead to confusion, seizure, coma, and death.
The best way to maintain a healthy electrolyte balance is of course to eat a variety of healthy foods and to take supplements if necessary. Electrolytes aren't hard to find - major supplements shouldn't be required with a healthy diet (with exception of calcium). Sports drinks (e.g. Gatorade) are full of electrolytes (as well as sugar!) in case you really can't eat properly...
Electrolytes are important to your body and life, and another excellent reason to eat healthily.
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