Welcome to Functional Friday where I use my knowledge as a functional blood chemistry specialist, to help you uncover what may be going on in your body! Like always, this is not medical advice, so please always verify with your practitioner ☀️
If you want to check out previous posts, check out the Functional Friday archives and feel free to comment if you have any requests for topics 🌈
Now let’s get started, todays topic is dehydration which is a bit more complex than not drinking enough water. Cellular hydration is dependent on a variety of factors and you can be dehydrated at a cellular level even though you are drinking plenty of water.
To assess cellular hydration, we need to look at a marker on the Complete Metabolic Panel called albumin.
Albumin is the bodies must abundant carrier protein and plays a big role in osmotic gradient, which makes it a good marker to assess hydration status. It helps to deliver water, fatty acids, minerals, hormones and other compounds across cell membranes using sodium potassium pumps which we will explore next week. If albumin cannot get into the cell, it cannot bring in water, and levels will build up in the blood while intracellularly the cell is depleted of nutrients and water.
The functional range for albumin is 4.3-4.8. Functional means that that’s the range win which the human body is healthiest, rather than the lab range which is the average of the population (not taking its health into account).
Since there is no known pathology that causes the liver to produce extra albumin, it’s a good way to assess if you’re dehydrated since higher levels will only show up if the blood is more concentrated (less water, therefore dehydrated). Hemoconcentration (Dehydration) can effect other markers on the panel, making some appear abnormally high/low or even abnormally normal.
Low albumin levels can occur if someone has liver pathologies or an infection/lots of inflammation. Pathologies like this in addition to dehydration can result in albumin that looks in range, could be a “false normal” since infection is pulling it down, and dehydration pulls it up, hence it looks like it’s perfectly in range! It’s always important to look at the big picture, look at patterns and understand your body to spot places you may need some help.
I would like to add that since albumin is so critical for health and nutrient transport, the body will even break down its own muscle in times of famine to produce albumin.
What can I do?
If this sounds like you, it’s a great idea to add electrolytes to your water to support your sodium potassium pumps to let albumin into the cell. Since albumin also binds to water, the cell will become hydrated intracellularly.
My favorite electrolyte product is LMNT which is a perfect blend of sodium, potassium and magnesium to power those sodium potassium pumps in appropriate ratios! I take up to 3 packets a day, since I live in a hot climate, sweat a lot and eat low carb.
I also make an effort to remineralize all the water I drink (we filter our water) with trace mineral drops since our soil is so depleted that our food no longer contains sufficient amounts of minerals.
If you simply drink plain, mineral/electrolyte free water, it’s actually possible that you’ll dehydrate yourself since you’re diluting the sodium and potassium that is in your system. This can have serious consequences and is sometimes the reason why distance runners experience heart attacks towards the end of the race when their sodium and potassium levels are depleted (either via sweat or excess fluid intake).
If you’re on a low carb diet particularly, your need for sodium especially will increase. Firstly because your body excretes more, and secondly because you will be cutting out lots of processed foods which are rich in sodium.
And no, consuming lots of sodium will not increase your blood pressure since dietary consumption of minerals do not impact blood levels- a hormone called aldosterone does, which we will explore next week.
Learn more about salt and electrolytes here!
I’ve also made electrolyte gummies 🍬
Salt your foods heavily with a high quality sea salt like Maldon’s, Redmond’s Real Salt or Celtic Sea Salt. Stay clear of the refined table salt! It is highly processed and leached of all its trace minerals.
Feel free to comment with any questions or requests for next week 🌈