What comes to your mind when you hear the word “glucose” and “electrolyte”?
Maybe your answer is glucose, energy drinks, or oral rehydration salt solution (ORS) which we all had once in our life as children. You do likely understand some nitty-gritty details of these two compounds.
Even WHO recommends a standard solution of ORS (for people) that contains the right balance of electrolytes and glucose.
Still, there are thousands of undiscovered questions surrounding glucose and electrolyte. Is glucose an electrolyte? The difference between glucose and electrolyte or what is the role of glucose in electrolytes?
So, let’s dive right into the answers.
Brief About Electrolyte
The electrolyte is a blanket term for salt and ions present in your body that carries charges (both positive and negative). They are minerals found in your body that are responsible for regulating blood pressure, producing energy, and muscle contraction.
In the nutritional world, these minerals carry a charge and are essential for your body’s cells. They are mainly three types of electrolyte found in your body: sodium, magnesium, and potassium.
Each of these electrolytes has some distinct property to conduct electricity when they get dissolved in water. For example, when sodium chloride( table salt) is added to water, it breaks down into its constituent ions sodium (Na+) and chloride (Cl-).
Elements of Electrolyte
There are five main nutritional elements of electrolytes—
These ions enter your body through your digestive tract. It can be hard to believe but more than 90 percent of the calcium and phosphate in your body is in the form of bones and teeth.
These five elements work as a team. They are dissolved in water and generate conducting action potentials in nerves and muscles.
Let’s take a look at the function of these (ions) in our bodies.
- Sodium ions: They regulate the body’s water content and transmits nerve signals.
- Potassium ions: They help in contracting muscles including the heart.
- Magnesium ions: They activate enzymes, mostly forms bones, and teeth, etc.
- Calcium ions: Transmit nerve signals and helps in clotting blood.
- Chloride ions: Enables the secretion of stomach acid and controls osmotic pressure.
To be precise, an electrolyte solution does contain water, salt, and sugar in the proper concentration. Now the question is: Is sugar an electrolyte? No, because salt and sugar are added as team members that help the body absorb more water and nutrients.
However, sugar and electrolyte do work together to boost your energy and support hydration in your body.
Is Glucose an Electrolyte? Role of Glucose in an Electrolyte
Is glucose an electrolyte? No, it’s not.
Then what’s the relation between glucose and an electrolyte? Let’s explore this in detail.
Remember that we discussed that electrolytes dissociate in water and convert into (ions) which are charged particles but when it comes to glucose, it does not dissolve in any constituent ions. This means it is unable to conduct any electricity hence it’s not an electrolyte.
Although, this is true the difference between glucose and electrolytes is not limited to ions. Glucose is responsible to feed the working muscles and counter fatigue in your body. But when it pairs up with electrolytes, the glucose electrolyte solution helps in water absorption and supports fluid retention to re-hydrate the body.
Recent clinical studies suggest that glucose-electrolyte solutions are highly effective for severe illnesses like diarrheal disease, cholera since the solution is easily stored and available.
Glucose plays a crucial role by acting as a carrier that transports sodium, chloride, and water across the intestinal walls. This ultimately helps the electrolytes promote water retention and recover hydration levels if you’re dehydrated.
In short, you need glucose for proper hydration else your body can be short on both electrolytes and energy.
Read More: Is Sugar an Electrolyte? Myths & Facts
Why is Glucose or Dextrose Used in Electrolytes?
Dextrose is the most common form of glucose. We know that the ions of sodium, potassium and other electrolytes are responsible to maintain fluid in our body.
They are essentially used to replace fluids and minerals such as sodium, potassium. The reason being they are often lost due to diarrhea, vomiting, or other diseases. Dextrose helps to prevent or treat the loss of body water (dehydration).
Since we all know that having the right amount of fluids and minerals is crucial for the functioning of the body. It also helps in regulating blood sugar for patients who are diabetic.
Benefits of Electrolyte
Now that we know electrolytes are a basic requirement for our body functioning. It’s time to introduce some of its major benefits:
- Maintains electrical neutrality in body cells
- Promotes sleep
- Elevates your immunity
- Makes sure that your body’s temp. is optimal through hydration and regulation of the body’s pH.
- Improves cognition
- Stabilizes blood sugar level
- Prevents kidney stones and keeps your muscles strong.
To conclude, we can say that glucose formulates electrolytes but is not an electrolyte itself. Lastly, adding sugar formulas like glucose and dextrose can boost hydration in electrolytes.
This solution can transport sodium, chloride, and water for rapid hydration with a correct balance of glucose and electrolytes.
Today, you can find thousands of workout drinks and powders that have the purest form of dextrose. Since it maintains a glucose-electrolyte balance that means it’s ideal for your body.