9 Food and Alternative Sources of Electrolytes

Cyclist eating a banana

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With the popularity and prevalence of electrolyte replacement beverages, it might surprise you to learn that brightly colored drinks and powders aren’t the only source of these necessary nutrients. Grab-and-go bottles or tablets may be a handy way to replace lost minerals, but those same minerals are present in plenty of everyday foods and drinks.

Electrolytes are the minerals the body loses through sweat, urine, feces, and vomit and include sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, chloride, bicarbonate, and phosphorus. They’re responsible for conducting electrical charges in the body (hence their "electric" name) and serve important functions like regulating fluid balance, keeping muscles contracting, and maintaining the proper acidity of blood.

There is no doubt that they play an important role in keeping your body functioning properly. But some electrolyte drinks can be high in added sugars and artificial colors (not to mention high in price), so you may prefer to get your supply from your regular diet instead. Here are nine alternative sources of electrolytes that you might want to try.


It's common knowledge that cow's milk is an excellent source of calcium, but this isn’t the only mineral that “does a body good"—particularly a body that's low in electrolytes. Besides the 300 milligrams of calcium in 1 cup, you’ll also find 366 milligrams of potassium (10% of the Recommended Daily Allowance or RDA), 93 milligrams of sodium (4% of the Daily Value), 246 milligrams of phosphorus (35% RDA), and 29 milligrams of magnesium (7% RDA for men and 9% for women).

After a tough workout, consider grabbing a cold glass of milk. It will help replenish your protein and carbohydrate stores with 8 grams and 11 grams, respectively—a bonus most electrolyte beverages won’t provide.

Coconut Water 

Refreshing and slightly tangy, coconut water makes a great low-calorie, all-natural electrolyte replacer. It is loaded with potassium, with 600 milligrams, or 16% of the DV, in each cup. Plus, it contains plenty of sodium at 252 milligrams (11% of the DV) per 1-cup serving.

Unlike many electrolyte beverages, pure coconut water has no added sugars. But it does pack a beneficial nutrient you may want to get more of—fiber. One cup has 2.6 grams. However, some store varieties are not pure and do contain added sugars so if you are looking to avoid added sugars read labels carefully.


Over the years, juice has gotten a bad rap for providing calories and sugars without the fiber of whole fruits. Even so, it can have its place in a healthy diet, especially when you’re looking to add some electrolytes.

Orange juice, for example, contains magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Some orange juices are even fortified with calcium to provide more of this nutrient. When choosing, just be sure to select one that’s 100% juice, free of added sugars. While not an electrolyte, many fortified orange juice varieties also contain vitamin D, an important fat-soluble vitamin.


A cup of soothing broth isn’t just easy on your stomach during a bout of the flu—it’s also a great electrolyte replacer, which you may need if your stomach bug includes vomiting and/or diarrhea. Most vegetable and animal-based broths contain plenty of sodium.

Chicken broth, for example, can pack over 900 milligrams (39% DV) per cup. Under normal circumstances, it’s not necessarily the best choice for health to consume so much sodium, since it can contribute to high blood pressure. But when there’s an acute need to replace electrolytes, reaching for something high-sodium can be appropriate.

Leafy Greens 

As food sources of electrolytes go, you can’t do much better than spinach, kale, collard greens, and other leafy greens. Inside each green package lies plenty of potassium, calcium, and magnesium. For instance, 1 cup of raw kale has 73mg of potassium, 53mg of calcium, and 7mg of magnesium. The versatility of greens allows you to reap their electrolyte benefits in salads, smoothies, soups, and more.


Headed to brunch after a weekend distance run? Consider ordering the avocado toast. A quarter of an avocado boasts 244 milligrams of potassium (7% RDA) and 32 milligrams of magnesium (10% RDA for women and 8% for men).


The good press bananas get for their potassium content is well deserved. One medium fruit contains 422 milligrams (12% RDA). Bananas make a great ingredient for post-workout smoothies, and because they’re mildly flavored, they’re often an easy food to keep down during an illness.

Dried Apricots

Speaking of potassium-rich fruits, there’s one that is surprisingly high—dried apricots. These unassuming orange orbs contain extraordinarily high amounts of potassium—465 milligrams per quarter-cup (13% RDA).

Meanwhile, they also contain small amounts of calcium and phosphorus. To amplify their electrolyte effects with a sodium boost, try dried apricots in a trail mix with salted nuts.

Dairy Yogurt 

Just like its precursor, milk, dairy yogurt is another naturally electrolyte-rich food. Calcium and potassium are found in abundance in yogurt made with cow’s milk. Mix citrus fruits or berries into yogurt for additional potassium.

Also like milk, a serving of yogurt helps fill you up with protein—especially if you choose the Greek variety. And if you’ve just lost electrolytes through an attack of diarrhea, the probiotic live, active cultures in yogurt could help get your GI tract back on course. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, probiotics have shown promise for the treatment of several types of diarrhea.

A Word from Verywell

Following a bout of strenuous exercise or a stomach virus, you can always grab a drink or supplement geared specifically toward electrolyte replacement. But you might not need to.

Start with the list of foods and beverages above. And be sure to read nutrition labels (or, for whole foods without labels, do a little research) to discover the electrolyte content of other common foods.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you replace your electrolytes naturally?

    Restocking your body’s electrolyte supply through foods and beverages isn’t difficult. Simply reach for dietary choices that contain ample amounts of minerals like sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, phosphorus, and calcium.

  • How do foods contribute to electrolyte replacement?

    Just like beverages, any foods that contain the right minerals contribute to replacing electrolytes. The important thing is that you are replacing what you lost after a strenuous workout or a day spent in the hot sun.

  • What are some signs you need to replace electrolytes?

    With a mild electrolyte deficiency, you might not notice any symptoms. After profuse sweating during a long workout or on a hot day, it’s not a bad idea to get ahead of electrolyte losses by reaching for any of the foods and drinks listed above. If your reserves dip low enough, you could experience symptoms like dizziness, confusion, muscle cramps, tingling fingers, and irregular heartbeat.

10 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Library of Medicine. Electrolytes.

  2. USDA, FoodData Central. Milk, whole.

  3. USDA, FoodData Central. Nuts, coconut water (liquid from coconuts).

  4. USDA, FoodData Central. Soup, chicken broth, ready-to-serve.

  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sodium.

  6. USDA, FoodData Central. Kale, raw.

  7. USDA, FoodData Central. Avocados, raw, all commercial varieties.

  8. USDA, FoodData Central. Bananas, raw.

  9. USDA, FoodData Central. Apricot, dried.

  10. . National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Probiotics: What you need to know.

By Sarah Garone, NDTR
Sarah Garone, NDTR, is a freelance health and wellness writer who runs a food blog.