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Electrolytes are substances which acquire the ability to conduct
electricity in the body by becoming ions in solution. They include
potassium, sodium, chloride, bicarbonate (measured by carbon
dioxide) calcium and magnesium.
The body generally maintains a tight balance among electrolytes and
this balance is necessary for optimal health. Systemic illness such as
kidney or liver disease, dehydration and conditions that affect the
digestive system are some things that can imbalance electrolytes.
Electrolytes that are out of balance can cause
• Essential tremor
• Dizziness
• Heat intolerance
• Excess sweating
• Is involved in hundreds of processes in the body, including both
carbohydrate and protein metabolism
• Is difficult to test
• Is lost through the gastrointestinal tract and the kidneys and in sweat
• Deficiency/insufficiency can be caused by
• unhealthy digestive system impairing absorption
• diabetes, if poorly controlled, causing increased loss in urine
• age which decreases absorption
• medications that interfere with absorption
• diuretics, antibiotics and cancer meds which cause loss
• unhealthy kidneys, causing excessive loss in urine
• alcoholism
• Insufficiency of magnesium is associated with
• muscle cramps, particularly on exertion
• involuntary contractions of the muscles of the hands, thumbs, feet,
or toes
• tremors
• inflammation
• muscle weakness
• depression
• anxiety
• sleep issues
• fibromyalgia
• facial tics
• eye twitches
• True deficiency of magnesium can cause
• numbness and tingling
• seizures
• personality changes
• abnormal heart rhythms
• coronary spasms
• Low magnesium intake is associated with
• high blood pressure
• cardiovascular disease
• type 2 diabetes
• colorectal cancer
• insulin resistance
• Magnesium is necessary for calcium to enter and stay in bone
• Fluoride from water and certain drugs binds magnesium to form
magnesium fluoride which drains magnesium from the body
• Most people on a Western diet have inadequate magnesium intake
• Probably everyone should supplement with magnesium
• Is almost always adequate from diet
• Is drawn into blood from bone as to regulate pH for acid-base balance
• Low serum levels may cause
• muscle spasms or twitching that occur at night and without
exertion, often in the calves and thighs but not the hands or feet
• numbness and tingling of fingers and toes
• depression
• irritability
• Supplement calcium as microcrystalline hydroxyapatite compound
     • identified as the best-absorbed calcium
     • derived from ground cow or ox bone
     • identical to calcium found in human bone
     • available as calcium hydroxyapatite
• Supplement only if recommended for a specific need
• Accompany with supplemental magnesium and vitamin K2
Potassium is essential to life. It is necessary for proper functioning of
all cells, tissues and organs. It is crucial to heart function. Its effect on
muscle contraction makes it important for normal digestive and
muscular function.
• Moderately low levels of potassium can cause
• weakness
• fatigue
• muscle cramps or pain
• fluid retention
• elevated blood pressure
• dizziness
• stomach disturbances
• irregular heartbeat
• abnormal EKG
• urine leaking
• Extremely low levels of potassium can cause terrible muscle aching
and loss of bowel and urinary control
• There are generally no symptoms of elevated potassium until it gets
seriously high which can cause
• excess urination
• nausea
• fatigue
• muscle weakness
• tingling sensations
• High enough or low enough levels can cause coma and death
• Medications that can cause high potassium
• potassium-sparing diuretics
• NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories)
• ACE inhibitors (e.g. captopril or enalapril)
• Other causes of high potassium
• kidney disease
• Medications that can cause low potassium
• diuretics
• corticosteroids
• laxatives (particuarly when used regularly)
• Other causes of low potassium
• diabetes
• very low carb eating
• frequent vomiting and/or diarrhea
• Moderately high potassium with relatively low sodium can indicate low
• Only prescription sustained-release potassium should be used to
supplement. Due to the feedback system, over-the-counter instant
release potassium can waste more potassium than it adds
• Taking potassium when cortisol is very low and unsupported can
lower blood pressure excessively
• It is possible to have normal serum potassium with low cellular levels
of potassium
Sodium is involved in fluid balance within the cells and is needed for
nerves and muscles to work properly
• Adequate sodium is essential for healthy adrenal functioning
• Moderately low sodium with relatively high potassium can indicate low
• Sodium levels can be affected by illness or injury, consuming too
large or too small amounts of fluid or salt and some medications,
particularly diuretics
• Symptoms of low sodium can include:
• salt craving
• dizziness
• excessive sweating
• high heart rate
• palpitations or arrhythmias
• muscle cramps
• temperatures higher than normal
• fluid retention
Fluid in the body is linked to the location of sodium. Too high
sodium in blood causes water to leak from cells into the blood
stream to dilute and lower sodium concentration. Too low
sodium levels in blood causes water to leave blood and enter
cells, causing them to swell
• High sodium is almost always caused by dehydration. If the
dehydration is chronic, there is likely to be limited symptoms. If
dehydration is acute, such as from extreme vomiting or diarrhea, the
body is less able to adjust to it.
• symptoms of dehydration can include:
• thirst
• dry mouth and nose
• elevated blood pressure
• dark, concentrated urine
• When sodium is low, the best way to address it is with unrefined sea
salt taken in water three or four times a day. An individual with low
potassium may have difficulties drinking the salted water. If
supplementing sea salt causes nausea, a pinch of baking soda in the
water may help
Chloride is the major negatively charged ion among the electrolytes.
• Controlled by the kidneys and can sometimes be affected by diet
• Involved in maintaining ph (acid-base) balance and helps to regulate
blood volume and artery pressure
• Elevated chloride can be present in kidney disease, diabetes and
elevated cortisol
Carbon Dioxide/Bicarbonate
Carbon dioxide (or Bicarbonate which is what Carbon Dioxide is being
used to evaluate) is an indication of how well the ph balance is being
maintained in the blood.