Maybe you’re already fighting the symptoms of a hangover as you read this, or maybe you’re seeking hangover prevention knowing you're about to have a night of responsible, but heavy drinking with your pals. Either way, an alcohol hangover is no fun, and you want to do what you can to mitigate the effects of alcohol or find the best cure for a hangover so you feel your very best the day after.
However, for most, this is not an easy feat.
Electrolytes: The Best Cure for a Hangover
A lot of folks turn to a glass of water paired with alka-seltzer or over-the-counter pain relievers like advil (ibuprofen) or tylenol (acetaminophen) as their go-to hangover remedy. Others go with the hair of the dog, i.e. drinking alcohol again to try and lessen the side effects of alcohol, most popularly, with a bloody mary.
But believe it or not, one of the main causes of the notorious hangover is simply due to depleted electrolytes, which can't be corrected just by popping a painkiller. What are these important minerals that are the best cure for a hangover, and what exactly needs to be replenished, you might ask? Keep reading to find out!
What are Electrolytes?
Electrolytes are minerals that have been dissolved into your body’s fluids. Once they dissolve, they form electrically charged particles called ions. Electrolytes are extremely important and everyone needs them in order to survive. Think of them as a car battery - they may not be exactly what makes your body move but they're needed to make it move at all!
The primary electrolytes are sodium, chloride, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. They have many functions and help to:
- Move nutrients into your cells
- Move waste out of your cells
- Balance your body’s acid/base (pH) level
- Support healthy muscles, nerves, heart and brain function
- Balance water levels
What is a Hangover?
If you happen to be one of the 56% of American adults who indulged in an alcoholic drink in the past month, chances are you may have also encountered the unfortunate counterpart to heavy alcohol consumption: the infamous hangover. Rolling out of bed with a dry mouth, upset stomach, and a throbbing headache are signs that your body is expelling all the beer, wine, and tequila shots that you so enthusiastically consumed the night before.
A hangover simply refers to a set of symptoms that occur as a consequence of excessive alcohol use. The most common symptoms include:
- Muscle aches
- Stomach pain
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Abnormal blood pressure
Electrolytes and Hangovers
As we mentioned, electrolytes' primary function is to help conduct electricity in your body. They have many functions, but most importantly - or at least when it boils down to hangovers - they help your body to retain fluids.
Did you know that alcohol is a diuretic? This means that it is a substance that dehydrates your body and causes frequent urination. When many people are hungover, they experience dehydration, which makes it a bit of a challenge for your body to flush out the toxins in alcohol that you consumed the night before. Since electrolytes replenish your body with the minerals you need to expel toxins and retain fluid, they are one of the best hangover remedies to kick your hangover to the curb - especially when you drink water and hydrate, too!
The Big Three
The big three electrolytes that are lost when you drink alcohol include sodium, potassium, and magnesium.
Sodium is the major positive ion in the fluid that's outside of cells. When combined with the mineral chloride, the resulting substance is table salt. Sodium is an important mineral with many functions:
- Helps conduct nerve impulses
- Regulates fluid balance
- Regulates blood pressure
- Increases the absorption of certain nutrients through the gut
- Promotes the release of vasopressin which helps with good quality sleep
Many processes in the body like the nervous system, muscles, and brain require electrical signals in order to communicate. Sodium is a crucial mineral and is responsible for generating these electrical signals. With that being said, it is no wonder you may feel a bit sluggish when this electrolyte has been depleted due to one too many drinks the night before.
Unlike sodium, potassium is most concentrated inside the cells of the body. The proper level of this important mineral is vital for normal cell production. It also helps to conduct electricity and is needed for your heart to function properly. In addition, potassium is also necessary for muscle contractions, particularly the contractions of your intestinal tract. Low blood levels of this crucial mineral can make you feel weak and can cause muscle cramps, which are both symptoms that come from a hangover when deficient in this mineral.
Magnesium is arguably one of the most important electrolytes because it is required for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It is one of the most abundant minerals found in your body and is essential for life.
- Aids in energy (ATP) production
- Helps muscles like your heart to contract
- Builds bones
- Contributes to DNA synthesis
- Regulates blood sugar levels and helps prevent low blood sugar
When you consume alcohol, your magnesium levels are disrupted greatly, which can leave your whole body out of sync. In fact, some of the most common (and terrible) hangover symptoms are due to loss of magnesium, such as fatigue, headache, high blood pressure, and muscle weakness.
Who knew a hangover came with so many health risks?
As we just mentioned, the most common electrolytes lost through excessive alcohol use include sodium, potassium, and magnesium. Your body naturally loses these vital minerals when you sweat and carry on with your daily life anyway, but it loses them a lot faster while battling toxins introduced to your body from the alcohol you drink.
One of the easiest and best ways to replenish these electrolytes and keep hangover symptoms at bay is simply by correcting your electrolyte imbalance. You could do this with coconut water and sports drinks, but with those drinks come loads of added sugar, and who wants that?
Better yet, it's much more ideal to go with electrolyte concentrates, powders, or tablets that mix easily into drinking water, and Adapted Nutrition has just these!
Adapted Nutrition is an incredible company with a true passion for delivering clean supplementation without the added sugar, maltodextrin, fillers, carbs, or artificial ingredients which are unfortunately found in many popular supplements today.
If you are looking to boost your hydration and replenish the important minerals lost after a night on the town, try Adapted Nutrition’s Hi-Lyte Concentrate, which is designed to be potent and fast-acting for quick relief - trust us, you'll thank us later!
No one enjoys getting a hangover. Headaches, stomach woes, and dizziness are all symptoms known too well for those that occasionally indulge in raising the roof (and their blood alcohol levels). Electrolytes are the best cure for a hangover because they help by replenishing your body with the nutrients it needs to get back to normal as quickly as possible!