Chlorine is one of the important electrolytes present in the body. Chlorine acts as electrolytes and responsible for carrying signals between the brain and different parts of the body and vice-versa. Its presence in the body regulates the water content of the cells.
In addition to sodium, chlorine plays a very important role in transferring neuro signals. We seldom heard that chlorine is poisonous and is harmful to our body however, an appropriate quantity of this element is required for the proper functioning of the human body.
Functions of Chlorine
Chlorine is a negatively charged ion and helps in the neutrality of outer cell fluid. It functions in association with sodium as an important electrolyte for neurotransmission. It also regulates the water content in our cells and tissues. Its deficiency leads to water retention and disturbs the balance between other electrolytes.
A small quantity of chlorine is stored in our skin which gets depleted in case of heavy sweating however, chlorine is also produced in hydrochloric acid which acts as a digestive juice. During the digestive process, a small quantity of chlorine is also observed in our bodies.
What is Chlorine Deficiency?
Hypochloremia is developed due to prolonged deprivation of a chlorine-rich diet. The secondary cause of deficiency is the malabsorption of chlorine in our body due to several health conditions like GI disorders, alcoholism, and renal disorders. It can also be caused by the increased concentration of other electrolytes like sodium and potassium.
Causes of Chlorine Deficiency
The condition of hypochloremia can be developed due to various factors. Some of the major factors have been illustrated below:
- Chlorine Deficient Diet: People often forget to have a balanced diet. Long-term deprivation of chlorine-rich diet leads to a deficiency. The rich source of chlorine is sea-derived food products which are unavailable in certain land-locked geographical areas.
- Alcoholism: The condition of chronic alcoholism leads to over excretion of ions from our body. It also affects the absorption capacity of the digestive organs and this vicious cycle keeps on moving.
- Chronic Disorders: Prolonged disorders like gastrointestinal, diarrhoea, vomiting, and congestive heart failure, and metabolism disorders may lead to the deficiency of chlorine in our body. These disorders affect the absorption capability of gastrointestinal tracts.
- Renal Failure: Kidney disorders may lead to unwanted expulsion of essential electrolytes from the blood results in the condition of hypochloremia. It is often observed in the case of chronic kidney disorders.
- Chemotherapy: Several studies suggests that chemo treatment results in the imbalance of important electrolytes like chlorine.
Symptoms of Chlorine Deficiency
The common symptoms of chlorine deficiency include:
- Muscle twitching
- High blood pressure
Health Risks due to Hypochloremia
- Brain Dysfunction: Chlorine play a very important role in neurotransmission. It acts as a carrier wave for transmitting the signal between brain and cell, tissues & organs along with sodium, potassium, and magnesium. Its deficiency may cause the void and disrupts the transmission and causes neural dysfunction.
- Digestive Disorders: Hydrochloric acid (HCl) is a key ingredient in the digestive process. Electrolyte imbalance may result in insufficient production of HCl which may affect the complete digestive process. Its prolonged deprivation may result in several gastrointestinal tract diseases.
- Seizures: Prolonged low concentration of chlorine may result in a seizure. People may even have coma conditions and can have deadly effects if not addressed within time.
Some other health risks associated with chlorine deficiencies are water retention in the cell and swelling of the body.
Tests for Chlorine Deficiency
Chlorine is present in the blood, cells, and tissues in variable concentrations. The common tests recommended for chlorine deficiency are blood or and urine tests. Its often tested in electrolyte or metabolic panel.
- Blood Test: Chlorine is tested as part of electrolyte or metabolic panel. Ideally, we don’t require any precautions for this test however we need to stop the medication that may interfere with the concentration of electrolytes.
- Urine Test: The second most used method to identify the concentration of chlorine in our body is the urine test. Its also been tested along with other electrolytes.
If you have health conditions that may cause deficiency, doctors advise these tests for the confirmation of chlorine deficiency.
Remedies for Chlorine Deficiency
- Chlorine Supplements: In case of severe deficiency doctor may prescribe medical supplements however they should be consumed in a controlled manner as high doses of chlorine may have an impact on GI tracts and imbalance of other electrolytes in our body.
- Chlorine Rich Diet: The easiest way to prevent chlorine deficiency is a chlorine-rich diet. Some of the chlorine-rich food items are seaweed, salt, celery, rye, tomatoes, lettuce, olives. The common source of chlorine is sea derive food items like salt.
- Fortified Food Items: Several food items have a very low concentration of chlorine in this circumstance we need to adopt the fortification process of food items to enrich our daily requirements of chlorine through diet.
- Avoid Drinking: Quitting alcoholism and smoking proved to be a good measure for maintaining an adequate reserve of body chlorine. It will reduce the added excretion caused by drinking.
Prevention of Chlorine Deficiency
It is often said that “Prevention is better than Cure” and indeed this is very much true about mineral deficiencies. Hypochloremia can be prevented through the consumption of a chlorine-rich diet.
- Sea fish
- Fortified food items
Adequate Intake (>19 yrs.):
The ideal way to prevent chlorine deficiencies is to a main balanced and healthy diet. The daily intakes of chlorine vary with age however, the recommended daily intake of chlorine for an adult is 1800-2300 mg.
The above texts elaborate on the importance of chlorine and associated health risks. It is vital for the proper functioning of the brain and digestive systems. In severe cases, it may lead to encephalopathy which may be irreversible in few cases. It also helps in maintaining the acid-base balance in our body.
Although chlorine deficiency has several ill effects, it can be treated with the appropriate consultation and supplements as prescribed by medical experts. The best possible way to avoid these life-threatening circumstances by consuming an adequate amount of chlorine as per RDA through various chlorine-rich diets.