A look at electrolytes
Electrolytes work with fluids to maintain health and well-being. They’re found in various concentrations, depending on whether they’re inside or outside the cells. (See Understanding electrolytes.) Electrolytes are crucial for nearly all cellular reactions and functions. Let’s take a look at what electrolytes are, how they function, and what upsets their balance.
The main extracellular cation is:
1. A. calcium. 2. B. potassium. 3. C. magnesium. 4. D. sodium.
To help you remember which fluid belongs to which compartment, keep in mind that INTER means between (as in interval—between two events) and INTRA means within or inside (as in intravenous—inside a vein).
Electrolytes help regulate water distribution, govern acid-base balance, and transmit nerve impulses. They also contribute to energy generation and blood clotting. This table summarizes what the body’s major electrolytes do. Check the illustration to see how electrolytes are distributed in and around the cell.