Hydration supplements are trending on social media, but what are they? And do you actually need them to be hydrated? Read on for more.
Scrolling through social media, you might notice numerous fitness influencers advertising their favorite hydration supplements. Even when listening to podcasts or watching online videos, it might seem like there’s never-ending promotion of electrolyte-packed products. If you’re like me, you might be wondering if you actually need to be drinking a hydration supplement to make sure you’re meeting your needs, or is water enough?
What Are Hydration Supplements?
Hydration supplements often contain electrolytes, which are naturally occurring minerals with an electric charge that are found in blood and muscles. Electrolytes like sodium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, phosphate and potassium are important for maintaining adequate hydration and pH levels in the body. Meeting your body’s electrolyte needs is important and typically pretty easy to do, but levels can drop as a result of exercising, illness or excessive alcohol consumption.
Hydration supplements can be helpful to provide electrolytes for people who regularly exercise or to help replenish hydration when people are ill. Popular brands of hydration supplements include Liquid I.V., AG1 by Athletic Greens, Nuun and Cove.
a collage of a hand holding a glass of water and Athletic Greens powder
How Hydrated Should You Be?
It is generally recommended that we should aim to drink about 8 cups of water a day, though that can vary based on a variety of individual factors. Some of that water can come from hydrating foods like watermelon and yogurt, or from other beverages besides water. Additionally, people who exercise frequently or are pregnant might have higher needs. However, plain water doesn’t contain electrolytes like potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and more.
Water’s lack of electrolytes is a main reason for the claims that hydration supplements make to balance your electrolytes. However, a balanced diet with ample fruits and vegetables, alongside water to aid in digestion, should provide appropriate electrolytes for most people. That said, athletes or those who struggle to meet their nutrient needs through their eating pattern might use hydration supplements to help fill in the gaps.
How to Stay Hydrated Without Supplements
Dehydration can be serious and often comes with a bunch of symptoms that don’t make you feel your best. It can reduce the oxygen flow to your brain, making you feel sluggish and distracted, and can also increase your risk of heart problems and muscle fatigue. Drinking enough water can help keep your skin elastic, your heart functioning at its best and your dental health in check, among other benefits..
So, Do You Need to Take a Hydration Supplement?
Hydration supplements can be helpful for specific circumstances and for individuals with higher electrolyte or hydration needs. Athletes who lose a lot of electrolytes through exercising might benefit from an occasional hydration supplement to balance their body’s levels. They can also help balance your electrolyte levels when you have been drinking more alcohol than usual, if you’re ill or if you were sweating a lot on a hot day.
The Bottom Line
While hydration supplement companies say this can be a great addition to your daily routine, you probably don’t need to have a hydration supplement each day to balance your electrolyte levels. A balanced diet with a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and lean proteins can work together with ample water to help your body stay hydrated and functioning at its best—no expensive supplements required.