Electrolyte sources
April 20, 2011 6:18 PM   Subscribe

What are cheap bulk sources of electrolytes?

I'm looking for an inexpensive source of electrolytes for my husband who has had a total colectomy. It would need to be something he could consume on a regular basis and be sugar free. Electrolyte powder from the pharmacy is quite expensive and Gatorade powder has sugar, which after a certain amount causes him other problems. I've looked into homemade recipes online, but they are mostly based on sodium, and we're not sure if that's a good idea, since he also needs to eat a fair quantity of potato chips to help keep him together so to speak.
posted by waterandrock to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Pickle juice. Maybe not ultra cheap or available directly in bulk, but if you guys eat pickles anyway, save the brine.
posted by phunniemee at 6:29 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

IANAD and I definitely think you should ask your husband's doctor this question; with that caveat, how about coconut water?
posted by hansbrough at 6:29 PM on April 20, 2011

Propel Fitness water is sugar free and has 190 milligrams of electrolytes per 20oz. That's about 60mg less than what Gatorade is I believe but it's still a good course. You can get it in powdered form.
posted by zephyr_words at 6:35 PM on April 20, 2011

Smartwater? Powerade Zero?
posted by J. Wilson at 6:39 PM on April 20, 2011

Morton's Lite Salt is a mixture of sodium and potassium salt--exactly what they put in those fancy drinks only without the flavoring. Add it to water or sprinkle on top of his food.
posted by schroedinger at 6:42 PM on April 20, 2011 [6 favorites]

No personal experience here, but how about Ultima?
posted by bread-eater at 6:57 PM on April 20, 2011

Yeah - "low sodium" salt has potassium chloride.

Pedialyte, a rehydration drink with lots of electrolytes for children contains, per 500mL (17oz, a little over 2 cups):

Sodium Chloride 1.75gm
Trisodium Citrate Dihydrate 1.45gm
Potassium chloride 0.75gm
Glucose Anhydrous 10.0gm

I've seen some with colouring agent, too.

Sodium chloride is "pure" table salt.
Trisodium citrate dihydrate is fancy talk for citric acid (you know, the sour in lemon juice).
Potassium chloride is "sodium free salt," it taste a little less "salty."
Glucose anhydrous is a common kind of (monosaccharide) sugar with no water molecules hanging around.

Morton's lite salt is higher on the potassium than the sodium than pedialyte, but this cycling blog post suggest that it makes a pretty decent electrolyte-rich rehydration drink for really cheap.

Looks like schroedinger is spot on the money.
posted by porpoise at 6:59 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Bananas were recommended to me a source of electrolytes.
posted by trialex at 7:29 PM on April 20, 2011

Dr. Sears recommends this recipe for women in labor. It's chock-full of minerals and electrolytes. I imagine you could cut the honey somewhat if that's a concern at all:


1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup honey (or to taste)
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 calcium/magnesium tablets, crushed
water to make 4 cups
posted by cymru_j at 8:00 PM on April 20, 2011

Emergen-C, which mitigated many a hung-over morning in my crazier days. They have a light version, which has only 1 gram of sugar.
posted by smirkette at 10:47 PM on April 20, 2011

You're not doing yourself any good by searching out sugar-free drinks. Glucose and sodium transport mechanisms are closely linked, and the body needs the presence of glucose to effectively absorb sodium. You also need the various components in specific ratios:
Measure all ingredients precisely. Small variations can make the drink less effective or even harmful.
posted by Rhomboid at 2:51 AM on April 21, 2011 [3 favorites]

Agree with the advice above to discuss this with your husband's physician, but to inform yourself you may want to read up on oral rehydration therapy. Although it was developed primarily for children with diarrhea, the effects of a total colectomy on fluid and electrolyte retention are similar.
posted by TedW at 5:06 AM on April 21, 2011

I also meant to add that you should be careful when adding potassium to your diet; having too much (or too little) in your blood can be life-threatening. Although it is hard to overdo it by taking in potassium by mouth, certain medical conditions (like kidney disease) or medications (like spironolactone) can predispose you to hyperkalemia (the medical term for too much potassium). Since we don't know your husband's medical history and whether any of these caveats apply the advice to check with his physician still stands.
posted by TedW at 5:13 AM on April 21, 2011

TedW makes a good point about the potassium supplementation. If someone is on a low-carb diet or working out a lot (like hours and hours a day), it doesn't matter as much, but you definitely don't want to go crazy otherwise.
posted by schroedinger at 1:43 PM on April 21, 2011

Thank you all for your suggestions! We will look into and consider each. This is far more detail than his doctors have time for or interest in unfortunately.
posted by waterandrock at 6:02 PM on April 22, 2011

Thanks Rhomboid!

As it turns out the sugar in the Gatorade isn't like consuming sugary foods on their own for him (which causes food to pass too quickly), probably for the reason you point out. All his doctors were cautioning him against consuming too much Gatorade or telling him to mix it at a weaker strength. He tried full strength whenever he was feeling a bit dehydrated based on your info, and it hasn't given him any problems. Dehydration isn't much of an issue now. Amazing!
posted by waterandrock at 5:51 AM on May 8, 2011

« Older Not your grandfather's black New Balance   |   am i crazy or what? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.