Electrolytes are molecules in your plasma – the liquid portion of your blood – that maintain either a positive or negative charge. These charges allow them to respond to messages from your nervous system by conducting electrical currents through your body, enabling and regulating many bodily functions and systems. Chloride is one of your body’s most important electrolytes. It is located in the extracellular fluid compartments – area outside the cells. Your body’s chloride levels are directly related to its sodium levels.
Functions of Chloride in your body
• Balances the fluid inside and outside cells along with sodium and potassium
• Component of stomach acid
• Generates and conducts electrical signals that play roles in many bodily functions
• Maintains pH balances
It is very important that your body’s electrolytes – such as chloride, sodium, and potassium – remain at their proper levels. Electrolyte imbalance (which is also called electrolyte disturbance) can occur if any of these substances has a sudden, abnormal change. The change can be elevation or depletion of the electrolyte, and may be due to renal failure or water loss, such as from long-time laxative abuse or excessive vomiting, diarrhea, or sweating. Therefore, sufferers of anorexia and bulimia are at particularly high risk. Electrolyte imbalance is usually the result of an underlying problem, such as dehydration or dysfunction of the endocrine system or kidneys, and is usually corrected by treating the initial problem. If an electrolyte imbalance is left untreated, it can cause heart-related issues, organ failure, problems with the nervous system, or death.
Chloride deficiency (Hypochloremia)
Chloride can exit the body through urine, sweat, or vomit, or from kidney or adrenal gland disease. Hypochloremia occurs when too much chloride exits the body, resulting in a deficiency. Although there are often no symptoms, some people experience headaches, nausea, or cardiac arrest. Others experience water loss and dehydration.
Chloride Elevation (Hyperchloremia)
Although there are often no symptoms, some people with elevated levels of chloride also experience dehydration, diarrhea, muscle tension, or kidney disease. Diabetics with elevated chloride levels have a very difficult time maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. There is usually an underlying cause of this disorder, and treatment should involve pinpointing and treating this problem.
Food sources of chloride
Most people get a majority of their chloride from table salt or sea salt. (Salt also contains potassium and sodium). Chloride can also be found in the foods – celery, lettuce, olives and tomatoes.
Because salt is so common in most of diets, it is usually not necessary to take supplements or eat more salt-containing foods. However, some people do need to add salt to their diets. People with adrenal failure, for example, need to increase their salt intake. Your healthcare provider can help determine whether or not you need more or less salt in your diet.
Possible side effects of excess chloride consumption
Any excess of chloride is usually removed from the body in urine. However, be cautious about consuming too much salt, which also contains sodium and potassium, and may contribute to muscle cramps, heartburn, dizziness, high blood pressure, or even electrolyte disturbances in people who are susceptible to this condition.
Many vitamins and enzymes need a mineral co-factor to function properly. The USANA Vitamins Chelated Mineral supplement is a carefully USANA formulated balance of essential minerals and ultra trace minerals sourced from the highest quality suppliers in forms readily absorbed by the body.