Electrolytes in Urine: Normal Lab Values and Causes of Change

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  • 0:02 The Many Locations of…
  • 0:36 Urine Calcium and Phosphate
  • 1:51 Urine Sodium and Chloride
  • 2:49 Urine Potassium
  • 3:23 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson will discuss four major electrolytes that are found in your blood. But we'll be discussing the significance of finding more or less than normal amounts of them in your urine.

The Many Locations of Electrolytes

Let's play a game of 'Where's Waldo?,' biochemistry style. I'm going to name off a substance and then see if you can figure out where it's found besides my examples.

  • Calcium: in milk
  • Sodium and chloride: in table salt
  • Potassium: in meat and dark greens

Some of you may be shouting at the screen and telling me they're also found in our blood and in our cells. Yes, yes, they are. But they're also found in our urine. And sometimes that's a sign of a serious disease you should be concerned about.

Urine Calcium and Phosphate

Calcium and phosphate are substances found in milk, in our cells, in our blood, in our bones, and oh so many other places. They're very important little electrolytes involved in many things, ranging from nerve signal conduction to muscle contraction. Without calcium and phosphorus, Waldo would have very little ability to move and talk and would have very weak bones.

If the levels of calcium or phosphorus excretion are found to be elevated in urine, then the first thing I want you to think about is hyperparathyroidism, a disease where excess parathyroid hormone is secreted.

On the flip side, both calcium and phosphate may be lower than normal in urine in cases of the exact opposite of hyperparathyroidism, hypoparathyroidism, which is an underactive parathyroid gland.

Other causes for increased urine calcium and phosphate excretion include hypervitaminosis D, or an excess of vitamin D, and any significant disease that causes the destruction of bone, such as certain types of cancer.

Logically, decreases in dietary intake of either calcium or phosphorus will lead to their respective decreases in the urine as it similarly occurs in hypoparathyroidism.

Urine Sodium and Chloride

Two other electrolytes, those that love to couple together to make table salt, can also be increased or decreased simultaneously due to many conditions. Like phosphorus and calcium they may sometimes, but not always, increase or decrease together. They are sodium and chloride. Without these two substances, Waldo would have a tough time digesting his food and maintaining proper blood pressure.

Low levels of chloride in the urine are sometimes a result of vomiting. There is a lot of chloride in your stomach, and if you vomit too much for too long, then you might deplete your body of it.

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