Electrolytes and Trace Minerals

Electrolytes and Trace Minerals


There are four main electrolytes, sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium.

The most important of these in terms of supplementation is magnesium because it is deficient in most soils and therefore in most vegetables, even organic ones. When supplementing magnesium the choices are not always easy – there are many types! Citrate is favoured by some, malate by others, taurate, glycinate and bisglycinate are the principle ones. Magnesium also requires vitamin B6 to be absorbed, along with boron, another trace element. Without magnesium, the body cannot effectively process calcium and lay it down in the bones and teeth, leading to high circulating levels in the blood stream, where eventually to clear the blood of it, it is deposited in fatty tissues, muscle tissue and joints, leading to arthritis, osteo-arthritis, painful tendons and tight muscles. 


Magnesium is related to various physiological functions including cardiovascular regulation. It may play an important role in control of neuronal activity, cardiac excitability, neuro-muscular transmission, muscular contraction, vascular tone, blood pressure and peripheral blood flow. It has been demonstrated that people with high blood pressure often have reduced serum and intracellular levels of magnesium.


These are some of the Risk Factors for Magnesium Depletion


  • Excessive intake of alcohol, salt, phosphoric acid (soft drinks) caffeine
  • Protein-energy malnutrition. There is evidence that magnesium balance remains positive as long as protein is above 30mg a day

Endocrine disorders

  • Hyperaldosteronism
  • Hyperparathyroidism with hypercalcaemia
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Diabetes mellitus and glycosuria


  • Profuse sweating
  • Intense, prolonged stress

Gastrointestinal disorders

  • Coeliac disease
  • Infections
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Mal-absorption syndromes
  • Pancreatitis
  • Partial Bowel Obstruction
  • Vomiting/Diarrhoea

Elevated Cortisol Levels

  • Chronic stress
  • Sleep depravation
  • Athletes and high frequency exercise

Pharmaceutical drugs

  • Aminoglycoside antibiotic
  • Cisplatin
  • Corticosteroids
  • Cyclosporins
  • Loop Diuretics
  • Tertracycline antibiotics


  • Metabolic disorders
  • Acidosis
  • Nephrotoxic drugs (eg cisplatin, cyclosporine)


  • Hyperthermia (hot flushes)
  • Hypercatabolic states such as burns
  • Phosphate depletion
  • Potassium depletion
  • Pregnancy
  • Lactation (prolonged eg 12 months or excessive lactation)
  • Excessive menstruation
  • Long term parenteral nutrition combined with loss of body fluids (eg diarrhoea)
  • Parasitic infection (eg pinworms)

Magnesium can be very effective for stress related illness and mental health. Studies have shown it is able to regulate the Hypothalamic, pituitary, adrenocorticol stress axis which is the major component of the stress system. It can also be used to successfully treat sleep problems in its glycinate form when taken with meals and at bedtime, as well as improving symptoms of headache, anxiety, irritability and short term memory loss.

Potassium levels tend to be less problematic providing the diet is rich with organic vegetables (to avoid the toxic residues of insecticides).

It is very unusual to need to supplement calcium because of the plentiful supply of it in a modern Western diet.