Stay Healthy When the SHTF: Electrolytes

Your blood is water-based. However, it has a degree of salinity; blood needs different types of salts to function properly. Human blood contains many components: red blood cells, white blood cells, proteins, fats, glucose, as well as electrolytes. The salt and other salt-like ions in the blood are electrolytes.

Blood electrolytes include calcium (Ca), chloride (Cl), magnesium (Mg), phosphorous (P), potassium (K), sodium (Na) and a form that carbon dioxide takes when it is dissolved in blood: bicarbonate (HCO3). A mild lack of electrolytes can make you feel sluggish and cause muscle cramps. A severe deficiency of electrolytes can cause heart arrhythmia and can be life threatening.

When the SHTF and the food supply is disrupted, you might need to pay more attention to your diet. Make certain you have sufficient protein, fat, and carbohydrates, as well as fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The electrolytes generally fall into the category of minerals. Below are some common foods high in each of the blood electrolytes.

Electrolytes and Food

1. Calcium: cheese, milk, yogurt, Tums (calcium carbonate)

2. Magnesium: whole grain cereals, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, bran cereal, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, whole-grain crackers

3. Phosphorus: milk, cheese, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds

4. Potassium: potatoes, reduced-fat potato chips, bananas, sun-dried tomatoes, low-sodium V8 juice

All potato chips have potassium. But the low-fat version has less fat, giving you proportionately more potato and more potassium per ounce. The plain (no oil) sun-dried tomatoes have more potassium than the in-a-jar oil type for the same reason. Low-sodium V8 juice has more potassium than the regular version because they use potassium chloride instead of salt (sodium chloride) to flavor the low-sodium variety.

5. Salt (sodium chloride)

If you eat an unhealthy American diet, with plenty of fast foods, snacks, and processed foods, you probably have too much salt in your diet. But if you eat a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean poultry, meat, and fish — you might be getting too little salt. So in the latter case, add salt to each meal, totaling at least 1/2 teaspoon per day. Salt is an essential nutrient.

– Thoreau

2 Responses to Stay Healthy When the SHTF: Electrolytes

  1. How much salt should you stock? I have about 6 containers of it, my wife thinks that is way too much. Thoughts?

    • It’s more than you need for cooking and eating. However, salt has other uses. I pour a whole container of salt into the bottom of each 5 gallon bucket to keep the food in the bucket dry. Salt is cheap now, so it doesn’t hurt to stock up. Buy the iodized version for better health.