Basics in Clinical Nutrition: Water and Electrolytes During Nutritional Support

e-SPEN, the European e-Journal of Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism. 2009 Apr 1; 4(2):E59-E61. doi: 10.1016/j.eclnm.2008.07.012. Epub 2008 Aug 15.
Sobotka, L., Allison, S. P., & Stanga, Z.


The intake of fluid and electrolytes is inseparable from the administration of nutrients by natural or artificial means. The calculation of appropriate requirements should therefore be assigned the same importance as those of macro- and micronutrients. Despite the fact that intravenous fluids are the most common prescription in hospital patients, fluid balance is often badly managed, with adverse consequences for the patient. It is too easy to give excess by the parenteral route without regard to appropriate balance considerations and without understanding the risks. As little as a 2-l deficit or excess of saline may cause physiological and functional problems for the patient. Excess causes, for example, delayed return of GI function and increased complications after surgery.

Learning objectives

  • To know water and electrolyte requirements in patients receiving artificial nutrition.
  • To know electrolyte content in commercial enteral diets.
  • To be aware of the changes in water and electrolyte requirements during nutritional support.

Information NutriBib

Reference work for leading, current and selected literature in the field of clinical nutrition

Publications on clinical nutrition have grown steadily in recent years and the scientific evidence has been improved by numerous observational as well as intervention studies. Various umbrella organisations, such as the Swiss Society for Clinical Nutrition (GESKES), the German Society for Nutritional Medicine (DGEM) or the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN) publish guidelines on nutrition in various clinical situations at regular intervals. Thus, a large amount of literature is available for evidence-based nutritional medicine.

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List of abbreviations

DGEM German Society for Nutritional Medicine (German Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährungsmedizin)
GESKES  Swiss Society for Clinical Nutrition (German Gesellschaft für klinische Ernährung der Schweiz) 
ESPEN European Society of Clinicl Nutrition and Metabolism