Electrolyte Balance: A Key Factor in Muscle Hypertrophy?
The electrolytes are essential for proper functioning of all bodily systems. Without them, vital functions such as heart rate and blood pressure would not function properly. For example, without adequate amounts of sodium (salt) in your body, you will experience high blood pressure which may lead to cardiovascular problems. Sodium plays a key role in maintaining normal nerve impulses and energy levels within the cells. If too much salt is consumed, it causes symptoms like diarrhea, cramps, nausea and vomiting. Salt also helps regulate blood sugar levels and prevents diabetes. Too little salt can cause fatigue, weakness and even seizures.
Sodium is found naturally in many foods including fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy products. However, excessive consumption of these foods can lead to excess sodium absorption. Excessive intake of sodium leads to water retention, constipation and kidney stones.
Excess salt intake can also result from medications such as diuretics and antacids used for treating high blood pressure or heart disease. Diuretic drugs reduce urine output causing dehydration which may increase your risk of developing hypertension. Antacid medications are often prescribed for stomach ulcers or acid reflux. Other causes of excess salt intake can be attributed to your diet and include salted snack foods, fast foods, breads, canned foods and processed foods.
Potassium is a very important electrolyte that helps regulate the electrical activity within the cells. It is found in most fruits and vegetables and helps balance out the negative effects of sodium. A diet containing adequate levels of potassium can help prevent strokes, kidney stones and osteoporosis. Too little potassium in the diet can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure and osteoporosis.
Magnesium is an essential electrolyte and mineral that is involved in more than 300 chemical reactions in the body. It helps to produce ATP, the main source of energy for your body. Magnesium also helps regulate normal heart rhythm and promotes normal blood clotting. Magnesium depletion can lead to insulin resistance, contributing to Type 2 diabetes.
It can also lead to high blood pressure and atherosclerosis, which in turn can cause myocardial infarction (MI). Magnesium is found in most nuts, leafy vegetables and whole grains.
Sodium, potassium and magnesium are essential nutrients used for a variety of body functions that ensure normal growth and development. Imbalances in these electrolytes can lead to a number of health conditions and diseases. This article focuses on how sodium, potassium and magnesium are linked to increased muscle mass in athletes.
After years of training, your muscles become larger and stronger as the fibers increase in size. This process is known as muscle hypertrophy and occurs after the trauma inflicted on your muscles by lifting weights or any other physical activity.
Sodium plays an important role in muscular contraction and relaxation. A proper amount of sodium is necessary for your nerves and muscles to function properly. Sodium deficiency can lead to muscle paralyses and cramps which obviously impair your ability to train. In addition, without an adequate supply of sodium in your diet or supplementation, you will experience a decrease in performance during your training sessions.
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for sodium is unrestricted. According to PubMed Health, the average person living in the United States already consumes far too much sodium on a daily basis. Adult men should limit their intake of sodium to 1500 mg per day while women should consume less than 1500 mg per day. The FDA estimates that the average American consumes 3400 mg of sodium each day, largely due to processed and pre-prepared foods which tend to be high in sodium content.
Athletes can be prone to consuming more sodium than is necessary during training. This can lead to high blood pressure and other serious health conditions. As an athlete, you are more prone to dehydration and heat exhaustion. Sodium retains water in your body, so a balance must be found between the two.
Salt is also used as a preservative in many processed foods which can cause the same problems as over-consumption.
The RDA for potassium is 4700 mg per day for men and 3600 mg per day for women. The average American consumes only half of the RDA for potassium each day. This can lead to a number of adverse conditions which will be discussed below.
Potassium is an electrolyte that is involved in the electrical impulses of your body that control the movement of your muscles. It also helps with the proper functioning of your kidneys, intestines and other internal organs.
Potassium can be found in a wide range of foods, including fruits, vegetables and nuts. Bananas are often cited as one the best sources of potassium along with other nutrients. Dark leafy greens like spinach are also rich in potassium. Meat and dairy products contain potassium, but only half that of their plant based counterparts.
Fish such as halibut, cod and sea bass contain a high amount of potassium.
Magnesium is an important mineral that can be found in a variety of different foods. Magnesium deficiencies can lead to physical and mental problems. It functions as an electrolyte and helps with the regulation of vital bodily systems such as the heartbeat. It is also necessary for the creation of ATP, which is the main energy source for all living cells.
The RDA for magnesium is around 300-400 mg per day for men and women. Most Americans don’t consume enough magnesium in their diet. While it exists in many foods, particularly green vegetables and grains, most people do not eat enough of these types of foods on a regular basis to get the recommended daily allowance.
Magnesium is found in many common foods such as whole grains, nuts, beans, dark leafy greens and some fish such as halibut, trout and sardines. It is also present in smaller amounts in fruits and vegetables. Dark chocolate is high in magnesium, as are peanuts.
Symptoms of a magnesium deficiency can include nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, insomnia and irregular heartbeat. People who suffer from asthma may find their condition worsened due to a magnesium deficiency. Elderly people are at a higher risk of developing a magnesium deficiency as certain medications such as antibiotics can interfere with the absorption of nutrients, including magnesium.
Selenium is a trace element that functions as an antioxidant in the body. It is necessary for several different enzymes that help with immune system function and reproduction of cells. A selenium deficiency can cause stunted growth and a variety of health problems such as hair loss, brittle bones and an increased risk of cancer.
The RDA for selenium is 55-70 mcg per day for adult men and women. Brazil nuts are probably the food item that contains the highest amount of selenium at Brazil nuts contain around 227 mcg per nut. Other foods rich in selenium include beef, pork and fish.
You may be asking yourself why you have not heard of selenium before as it is an essential mineral that our bodies need to function properly. The reason for this is because it can only be found in certain areas of the world where the soil is rich in selenium. For this reason, foods from these places are more likely to contain high levels of selenium.
Selenium is a trace element, therefore the human body does not require a lot of it to survive. In fact, too much selenium can be harmful and may increase the risk of developing selenium toxicity.
Note: Consuming seeds such as sunflower and pumpkin seeds on a regular basis can increase your risk of selenium poisoning.
Calcium is the mineral that is required for the formation and maintenance of bones and teeth. It is also necessary for blood clotting and helps to transmit messages through the nervous system.
The RDA for calcium in adult men and women is 1000 mg per day. One cup of fat-free milk contains 306 mg of calcium. A half-cup of shredded cheddar cheese contains 300 mg of calcium. Other foods that contain high amounts of calcium include broccoli, kale, collard greens, sesame seeds and tofu.
Calcium supplements are another common way to increase your daily intake of this mineral. However, it is important to note that most of the calcium supplements sold in stores are mainly composed of calcium carbonate. The carbonate in these pills can cause abdominal cramps, increased flatulence and bloating.
Calcium supplements can cause abdominal cramps, increased flatulence and bloating.
The recommended daily intake for magnesium is between 300 mg and 400 mg per day for adults. Foods that are rich in magnesium include wheatgerm, halibut, pumpkin seeds and Brazil nuts. Other good sources of magnesium include whole grains, lean meats and green leafy vegetables.
Magnesium is involved in more than 300 different chemical reactions that take place in the body. These actions help with the functioning of the muscles, including the heart, helps to build strong bones and relieves muscle cramps.
Magnesium also helps with the proper functioning of a number of vital organs such as the heart, brain and kidneys.
The benefits of magnesium can be negated if too much is consumed. Consuming too much magnesium can lead to diarrhea, nausea and abdominal pains.
Zinc is a trace element that is necessary for the proper functioning of a number of chemical reactions that take place in the body. Zinc helps with the formation of bones and enzymes that are required for DNA replication. It also helps with the healing of wounds and cell reproduction.
The RDA for zinc in adult men is 11 mg per day and for adult women, it is 8 mg per day. Three ounces of beef contains 2.0-3.0 mg of zinc.
Other high sources of zinc include pumpkin seeds, shrimp, cashews and chickpeas.
Too much consumption of zinc can lead to copper deficiency because the body has a hard time absorbing both minerals at the same time. The symptoms of excess zinc intake include loss of sense of taste and smell, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.
Selenium is another trace element that works with zinc in regulating the body’s thyroid gland. The thyroid gland produces hormones that control the rate of metabolism in the human body.
The RDA for selenium is 55 mcg per day for adults. Brazil nuts are the richest natural source of selenium with just one nut providing close to 100% of the recommended daily intake. Other foods that are rich in selenium include tuna, shrimp, turkey and liver.
Too much selenium can lead to severe side effects. In fact, in Brazil, four hundred people died after consuming water from a river that had high levels of selenium.
Sources & references used in this article:
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Electromyostimulation—a systematic review of the effects of different electromyostimulation methods on selected strength parameters in trained and elite athletes by A Filipovic, H Kleinöder, U Dörmann… – … Journal of Strength & …, 2012 – cdn.journals.lww.com
Activation of human plantar flexor muscles increases after electromyostimulation training by NA Maffiuletti, M Pensini… – Journal of applied …, 2002 – journals.physiology.org
Electromyostimulation—a systematic review of the influence of training regimens and stimulation parameters on effectiveness in electromyostimulation training of … by A Filipovic, H Kleinöder, U Dörmann… – … Journal of Strength & …, 2011 – cdn.journals.lww.com