What are electrolytes?
An electrolyte is a substance that dissociates in water into charged particles called ions. Positively charged ions are called cations. Negatively charged ions are called anions. Simply put, an electrolyte is a substance that can conduct an electrical current when melted or dissolved in water.
Electrolysis is the process of passing an electric current through a substance in a molten or aqueous state, breaking it down. Glucose and urea do not dissociate in water because they do not have an electrical charge. Therefore, these substances are called non-electrolytes. The electrolyte is a compound that conducts electricity in the molten state or when dissolved in water.
An ionic compound, for example, sodium chloride dissolved in water, is called an electrolyte because it conducts electricity. Electrolytes are important constituents of the body because,
- It conducts electricity, essential for muscle and nerve function.
- It exerts osmotic pressure, keeping body fluids in their own compartments.
- Act as before to resist pH changes in body fluids.
Many biological compounds, for example, carbohydrates, are non-ionic and therefore do not have electrical properties when dissolved in water. Important electrolytes besides sodium and chloride include potassium, calcium, bicarbonate, and phosphate.
1. Main electrolytes outside the cell
Sodium and chloride, the major electrolytes in the extracellular fluid, exert most of their influence outside the cell. Sodium concentration affects serum osmolality and extracellular fluid volume. Sodium also helps nerve and muscle cells to interact. Chloride helps maintain osmotic pressure. Gastric mucosal cells require chloride to produce hydrochloric acid, which breaks down food into absorbable components.
Calcium and bicarbonate are two other electrolytes found in the extracellular fluid. Calcium is the main cation involved in the structure and function of bones and teeth. Calcium is necessary for
- stabilize the cell membrane and reduce its permeability to sodium transmit nerve impulses
- contract muscles
- coagulate blood
- form bones and teeth
- bicarbonate plays a vital role in acid-base balance.
2. Main electrolytes inside the cell
Potassium, phosphate, and magnesium are among the most abundant electrolytes within the cell.
- Potassium plays an important role in
- regulation of cell excitability
- nerve impulse conduction
- resting membrane potential
- muscle contraction and myocardial membrane response
- control of intracellular osmolality
The body contains phosphorus in the form of phosphate salts. At some point, the word phosphorus is in the form of phosphate salts. Sometimes the words phosphorus and phosphate are used interchangeably. Phosphate is essential for energy metabolism. Combined with calcium, phosphate plays a key role in the mineralization of bones and teeth. It also helps maintain acid-base balance.
Magnesium acts as a catalyst for enzymatic reactions. It regulates neuromuscular contraction, promotes the normal functioning of the nervous and cardiovascular systems, and aids in protein synthesis and the transport of sodium and potassium ions.