should i take an electrolyte supplement?

The simple answer to this question is: Most likely, yes. The story of fluid-based electrolytes is very much a story of water – which as you will see, has changed dramatically in the last few decades. As water processing has evolved to remove harmful contaminants, essential nutrients (in the form of minerals) have also been lost, with potentially negative consequences. In this article, you’ll learn about the role of fluid-based mineral electrolytes in supporting human health, and how this has changed across time.

How has the composition of drinking water changed across time?

When most people think of water, they think of the water molecule: H2O. What many people don’t realize is that water in nature also contains a wide range of nutrients in the form of dissolved minerals. As it travels over rocks and through the earth, minerals make their way into water. The result is complex fluid matrix that is far more than just H2O. The nutrients (minerals) commonly found in natural water include:

  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Trace minerals, such as selenium, iodine, molybdenum, zinc, copper, manganese, and chromium.

Unfortunately, the water that is accessible to most humans on earth also contains a wide range of potentially harmful contaminants. While developing countries experience the greatest contamination, water in developed countries also often contains contaminants of concern. For example, tap water in the US often contains things like lead, arsenic, and industrial and agricultural contaminants. Removing these contaminants is critical to supporting human health.

To remove these undesirable compounds, water filtration devices are used. These devices pass water through a semi-permeable filtration membrane, and range in complexity from simple pitchers and countertop basins to industrial reverse osmosis filtration systems. Reverse osmosis filtration is also widely used in government, commercial, and military applications. Filtration devices do not distinguish between minerals such as magnesium, which are essential for human health, and harmful contaminants such as lead. The filters are non-specific and remove any molecules bigger than the size of the filtration pores, which include naturally occurring minerals. As a result of this processing, our modern filtered water becomes simple H2O.

Should water be a source of essential nutrients?

A little-known fact is that consumption of water from nature will make a small (but appreciable) contribution to our required nutrient intake, specifically the intake of some minerals, which are a class of micronutrient. Most commonly, recommended nutrient intake is defined using the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), which refers to nutrients that come from food. But this term is a bit of a misnomer, as it ignores nutrient intake from water. Instead, the World Health Organization recommends that we use the term Recommended Nutrient Intake (RNI, also referred to as the Reference Nutrient Intake), which refers to nutrients that come from food and water. 

As already mentioned, there are many nutrients that occur naturally in water, including calcium, magnesium, sodium, chloride and potassium. These minerals are estimated to contribute between 1 and 20% of our recommended daily intake values when natural water is consumed. Water makes the most appreciable contribution to nutrient intake for calcium and magnesium, at up to 20%, while for most other minerals it provides between 1 and 5%. By removing minerals from water using processes such as reverse osmosis, we are eliminating a vital nutrient source. Putting minerals back into water, which can be done with electrolyte mineral formulations, is an easy way to circumvent this problem. 

Are there any health impacts of drinking highly filtered water?

While it’s obviously important to remove harmful contaminants from water, this can’t be done without also removing essential nutrients. And there is clearly a downside to this removal. Here are a few important health risks that have been associated with drinking highly filtered water: 

  • Mineral loss from the body: Studies have shown that consumption of demineralized water can lead to a loss of body minerals that are excreted in the urine, faces and sweat. In kids, this can slow growth and lead to cavities.
  • Water loss from the body: In addition to mineral losses, drinking demineralized water also leads to the loss of water from the body – there is an up to 20% increased excretion of body water in studies of human volunteers drinking demineralized water.
  • Impaired electrolyte homeostasis: Drinking demineralized water may impair electrolyte homeostasis and lead to changes that may increase the risk of cancer.
should I take a magnesium supplement?

There is also some evidence of mineral intake specifically from water preventing disease in humans. For example, magnesium in drinking water is associated with protection against death from acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) among males. Similarly, drinking hard water (which contains dissolved electrolytes, including calcium and magnesium) is associated with protection against cardiovascular disease. Drinking hard water has also been associated with a decreased risk of some types of cancer, including stomach and esophageal, as well as stroke. Calcium rich water has also been found to support bone health.

What are electrolytes?

You’ve probably already realized that the minerals found in natural water have something to do with electrolytes. In fact, many of these minerals are electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals that carry an electric charge and can conduct electricity in the body when in a dissolved state. The most important electrolytes in the body are sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, and bicarbonate. These charged ions are found throughout the body, and their levels are carefully maintained in balance, or homeostasis. 

What do electrolytes do in the body?

The general role of electrolytes is to regulate physiological function, but each one is unique. Here is an overview of the primary electrolytes and their specific roles in the body:


In its electrolyte form, sodium is found as a positively charged ion, Na+. In the body, it is mainly found in the blood and extracellular fluid, while in nature it is usually found complexed with chlorine as sodium chloride (NaCl), also known as table salt. The dietary intake of salt is a controversial topic, with medical groups advocating for a low intake while research studies suggest that this recommendation is unfounded. Adequate consumption of sodium is essential to health; as Na+, sodium regulates fluid balance in the body and is a main player in the sodium potassium pump, which regulates the electrical potential of cell membranes, nerve transmission, and muscle contraction. Sodium is also involved in hormone regulation.


As an electrolyte, potassium is also found as a positively charged ion, K+. Unlike sodium, which is mainly found in extracellular fluid, potassium is primarily found in fluid inside the cell. It is widely distributed in food, although the average global dietary intake currently falls below the recommended level. Sufficient intake of potassium appears critical to the regulation of blood pressure, which is often attributed to high sodium intake. Potassium works along with sodium in the sodium potassium pump and helps in the regulation of fluid balance, nerve transmission, and muscle contraction.  


In its electrolyte form, magnesium is found as a positively charged ion, Mg2+. Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals, both in the earth and inside the human body. However, magnesium deficiency is widespread, and is primarily caused by (1) low intake of dietary magnesium, and (2) a substantial loss of magnesium from agricultural soil causing a decrease in the magnesium content of foods. There is also reduced consumption of magnesium rich water. Most magnesium in the body is found inside cells, rather than in the blood, and it is especially concentrated in the muscles and bones. Magnesium is involved in virtually every cellular metabolic and biochemical process in the human body. Acting as a cofactor or activator for over 800 chemical reactions, magnesium regulates everything from metabolism to protein synthesis, to DNA repair and synthesis. It is also involved in conveying messages between molecules within the cell as well as in regulating cell replication. 


As an electrolyte, chloride is found as a negatively charged ion, Na. Chloride occurs naturally in foods in small amounts, but the greatest dietary contributor is table salt (NaCl). Chloride deficiency occurs when there is insufficient intake of salt or excessive loss from the body, such as through sweating. In the body, it is mainly found inside of cells, where it helps to regulate fluid balance and pH, facilitate nerve and muscle function, and control the flow of oxygen and carbon dioxide in cells. 


In its electrolyte form, calcium is found as a positively charged ion, Ca2+. Most calcium in the body is found in bones and teeth. Calcium rich foods include dairy products and some plant foods, and it is also found in calcium rich water. Calcium deficiency is a global problem affecting around half the population. Calcium plays a critical role in blood clotting, muscle contraction, nerve function, and as a signaling molecule in a wide range of cellular processes. And, of course, it is a primary structural component of bones and teeth. 


Phosphorous is a mineral that in the body, is mostly found combined with oxygen. This combined phosphorous/oxygen form is called phosphate, and it is in this form that phosphorous acts as an electrolyte, PO3, when dissolved in fluid. Most phosphate in the body is found in bones and teeth. Phosphate is also involved in energy production, in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Phosphorus is widely distributed in foods and deficiency is rare.  


Another important electrolyte in the body is bicarbonate, which is a molecule that consists of hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen. As an electrolyte, bicarbonate is found as a negatively charged ion, HCO3. Bicarbonate can be made in the body. It is also found in foods such as baking soda (as sodium bicarbonate) and carbonated drinks (as potassium bicarbonate). Bicarbonate plays a critical role in the acid/base balance of the body. Because bicarbonate is not an element, it does not have a specified dietary requirement.

Clearly, electrolytes do a *lot* of work in the body, including regulating:

  • Fluid balance
  • Nerve transmission
  • Muscle contraction
  • pH
  • Metabolism
  • Energy production
  • Hormone production

Maintaining electrolyte levels is essential for optimal health!

Why can’t I just consume electrolytes from food and supplements?

Electrolytes have two sources in nature, food and fluids (especially water). And in modern society, we’ve added a third: dietary supplements. Both food and dietary supplements are good sources of electrolytes and should comprise the majority of nutrient intake. However, water can provide between 1 to 20% of certain minerals, and it is abundantly clear that consumption of electrolytes from water yields unique benefits irrespective of food and supplement consumption, including protection against:

  • Mineral losses from the body
  • Water losses from the body
  • Some types of cancer
  • Stroke
  • Cardiovascular disease

Consumption of electrolyte containing water also supports the maintenance of electrolyte homeostasis in the body, which is essential for optimal physiological function. Water that contains electrolytes is obtained in one of two ways: by drinking natural mineral rich water, or by adding a mineral rich electrolyte supplement to a demineralized water source, such as reverse osmosis water. 

Can electrolytes become deficient or imbalanced?

Electrolyte imbalances can occur when blood levels become too high, or too low. Each electrolyte can become imbalanced, with potentially serious (and even life threatening) consequences. Levels of electrolytes are tightly regulated in the body for this reason, which occurs mainly at the level of the kidneys. Electrolyte deficiencies occur when there is Inadequate dietary consumption of a nutrient. Both imbalances and deficiencies are possible.

Do some people need more electrolytes?

Yes, there are some people who need more electrolytes. Anyone who – for whatever reason – is losing fluid from the body at a higher-than-normal rate will need to intake more to restore electrolyte balance. And anyone consuming low levels of electrolytes from food and water will require more to prevent deficiency. This applies to the following conditions:

  • People who are exercising and sweating (even more so if in hot and/or humid conditions).
  • People eating a low sodium diet, such as keto, paleo, or other low carb diets. (Note – if you are on a low sodium diet because of a medical condition, such as a kidney disease, be cautious about supplemental sodium intake).
  • People who are fasting.
  • People experiencing illnesses involving vomiting and diarrhea.
  • People with certain medical conditions, such as Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia (POTS) 

Increasing intake of mineral rich water, either natural or supplemental, as well as consuming more electrolyte containing foods, can help people meet these increased needs. 

How do I choose a mineral electrolyte supplement?

Read the ingredients – Most dietary supplement will contain both active and inactive or “other” ingredients. You need to pay attention to both.

Electrolyte supplements should contain several electrolytes, such as sodium, magnesium, chloride, and potassium, as the active ingredients. Although this information may be hard to find, it’s helpful to know where the active ingredients are sourced from. Naturally sourced ingredients are always better than artificial ones. For example, in an electrolyte supplement, a natural source of sodium and chloride would be natural sea salt.

Electrolyte supplements usually also contain inactive ingredients. The inactive ingredients are usually there to: (1) provide bulk (filler), (2) hold the product together (binding agents, coatings), (3) add flavor or sweetness, or (4) keep the product from clumping together (flow enhancers). Sometimes this list is long, and it’s often where some undesirable ingredients sneak in, such as potassium sorbate, artificial colors, or titanium dioxide. It’s best to keep this list short and naturally sourced.

Verify product purity – Only choose high quality products that verify their purity via an unbiased chemical analysis performed by a third-party lab. These analyses should be reported in a Certificate of Analysis (COA) that is readily available to consumers, often through a QR code link. COA’s should be available for each batch of products, and will measure contaminants such as heavy metals, microbes, and pesticides.

Look at the amounts listed in the Nutrition Facts – Electrolyte supplements are not meant to provide high levels of the daily value of nutrients, so when you look at a Nutrition Facts table, the %DV (Daily Value) for each nutrient should be twenty or less. Minerals from natural water will be between 1 and 20% DV, so this is a simple rule of thumb to follow. 

An additional consideration is that if an electrolyte supplement can be added to water, rather than being pre-packaged in plastic bottles, contamination of the water with microplastics can be reduced. 

what's NOT in fringe electrolytes?

Let’s start off describing what we’ve (intentionally) left out of Fringe electrolytes. They contain no:

what's in the tub?

Sea salt provides both sodium (at 8%DV) and chloride (at 20% DV). It also contains small amounts of other minerals like iron, iodine, manganese, zinc, and selenium. We opted for a high-quality natural sea salt, sourced from Australian sea water, rather than table salt, because of its natural origin and more diverse mineral profile. 

Potassium (at 2% DV) is essential for regulating many processes in the body, including heart, muscle, nerve, and blood vessel function.

Magnesium malate (at 3% DV) is a highly absorbable form of magnesium that helps reduce pain and inflammation, improve mood, and supports heart, nerve, and muscle health – without causing unpleasant digestive symptoms.

We wanted to up the ante on our electrolytes and supplement trace minerals – essential micronutrients which are critical in many biological processes in the body! Our trace minerals are naturally sourced from the Great Salt Lake and include selenium, iodine, molybdenum, zinc, copper, manganese, and chromium. These are present in small amounts that are below 1% DV. 

*Our ratio of sodium to potassium is at around 3:2, which is the same ratio used by the sodium potassium pump.

This is a soluble fiber derived from chicory root. It helps to maintain accurate dosing with the product and is also a prebiotic resistant starch which has a positive effect on gut health!


We’ve covered a lot of ground in this article, but the key takeaway is that mineral rich electrolyte supplements will help to support hydration and electrolyte balance. Adding minerals to water at between one and 20% of the recommended daily nutrient intake will restore your water to the way that nature intended.

An easy way to do this is by using Fringe electrolytes as a regular part of your wellness routine. Simply mix 1 scoop of electrolyte powder into your water, 1-2 times per day.  For a bit of natural flavor, add a squeeze of citrus or a few drops of essential fruit oil. Add a boost of hydration in the morning to start your day right, rehydrate after a tough workout, throw in your kiddos water to keep them hydrated in a clean way…there’s no right or wrong way to do it!

about the author

Dr. Genevieve Newton, DC, PhD  spent close to 20 years as a researcher and educator in the field of nutritional sciences before joining Fringe as its Scientific Director. Gen’s job is to “bring the science” that supports Fringe’s products and education. She is passionate about all things Fringe, and is a deep believer in healing body, mind and spirit using the gifts of the natural world. 

The contents in this blog; such as text, content, graphics are intended for educational purposes only. The Content is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your healthcare provider.

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