Chloride along with sodium and potassium are responsible for osmotic pressure and acid-base balance. Chloride is the most abundant anion in the extracellular fluid. As an electronegative element, Cl− is an oxidizing agent. In addition to its passive role in electrolyte balance, chloride is required for the production of gastric hydrochloric acid secreted from the parietal cells of the gastric mucosa in the stomach. This mucosa also releases pepsinogen, which is activated by HC1 and is the intrinsic factor needed for vitamin B12 absorption and mucus production. Mucus protects the organ from being digested by the HC1 and proteases. HC1 acts as a bactericide preventing bacterial overgrowth of the gastrointestinal tract. It also functions as the exchange anion in the red blood cell for HCO3 known as the chloride shift. This process allows the transfer of CO2 derived from the tissues back to the lungs
Gastric Juice Production
As many people know, one of the main contributors of our digestion is Hydrochloric Acid. It is secreted into our stomach in order to activate digestive enzymes primarily pepsin so that the process of Proteolysis can break down the bonds in proteins into usable amino acids. This activation also creates the intrinsic factor needed for the absorption of Vitamin B12 and the production of mucus.
HCL is produced as a by-product of parietal cell functioning. When something referred to as the H+/K+ ATPase or ‘Proton Pump’ is working correctly acid secretion happens. This proton pump works through the passing of positively charged potassium and hydrogen ions between the parietal cell barriers and ‘bonding’ this Hydrogen to Chloride anions. Hydrogen ions are formed inside the cell through the disassociation with water, where they are combined with carbon dioxide. This newly formed Bicarbonate Ion leaves the cell and is then swapped for Chloride. This release of Bicarbonate is referred to as the “alkaline tide” and plays an important role in the regulation of blood pH. The other side of this process involves the swapping of Potassium and Hydrogen through the ‘proton pump” (Potassium goes in and Hydrogen goes out). Due to the positive nature of the Hydrogen and the negative nature of the Chloride, they attract each other and bond in solution forming Hydrochloric acid.
The main function of chloride in the body is to maintain fluid balance. In humans, chloride makes up a large majority of the extracellular fluids (fluid outside of the cell). It is the major anion in the body, which also allows it to function as a principal electrolyte in our bodies. Chloride is very important for the electric potential difference across a cell’s membrane and is able to move passively across cell membranes bringing other nutrients with it.
Outside the cell, chloride associates with sodium in order to maintain osmotic pressure (the pushing and pulling of bodily fluids resulting in their movement). Inside the cell chloride associates with potassium making potassium chloride. Chloride also assists in the conduction of electrical impulses when paired with potassium or sodium. When dissolved, chloride becomes a negative ion while sodium and potassium become positive ions.
The cell membranes of nerve cells, like those of all other cell types in the body, are perforated by so-called chloride channels. These permit the exchange of negatively charged chloride ions between the cell and its environment. These channels are not specific to Chlorides as they allow for the flow of all negatively charged ions.
Our nerves function based off of electrical impulses, exchanging charge from inside the cell to the external environment. Chlorides, when in the fluids of the body, gain an electron and become negatively charged. These chlorides in combination with the positively/negatively charged electrolytes such as Potassium, Sodium, Magnesium, and Phosphorus make up the majority of electrical signaling within the body. Without the difference in charge and their exchange no nerve impulses would happen, from muscles to neurons, our body would basically stop.
One of the ways in which Chloride helps to detox the body is through the ‘Chloride Shift’. This is basically the exchange of Bicarbonate (HCO3) in the body’s Plasma and Chloride (Cl2) in the body's Red Blood Cells. This allows for the Bicarbonate to be transported up to the respiratory system and be exhaled as Carbon Dioxide (CO2).
Chloride is also needed to maintain the body's acid-base balance. The kidneys excrete or retain chloride mainly as sodium chloride, depending on whether they are trying to increase or decrease body acid levels.
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