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What’s the Deal With Electrolytes, Anyway?

You know how sports drinks – your Gatorades and your PowerAde, and their curiously colorful ilk – are always going on about all the electrolytes they’ll help you recover after a workout? While some people debate whether that’s true, others wonder what an electrolyte even is.

Because we’ve been hearing about them forever, we may be afraid to ask. Now we don’t have to be. The American Chemical Society and PBS Digital Studios have teamed up on a video that fills us all in.

According to the video, electrolytes are nutrients that we usually take in through the foods we eat. While regular old table salt (sodium chloride) is the most common electrolyte in our bodies, others include potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphate.

These electrolytes – positive and negative ions – control the flow of water and nerve impulses in our bodies. We need the proper balance of electrolytes to maintain our health at a cellular level and keep our hearts, lungs and brains functioning. We lose electrolytes when we sweat, and if we...

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