Sunday, January 18, 2009

Why Salt Tablets Are Not a Good Idea

Sodium (Na) is the predominant cation (positively charged element) found in extracellular fluid. It is important in maintaining the proper acid-base balance and in the transmission of nerve impulses. Sodium teams with potassium, the chief cation of intracellular fluid, to maintain proper body fluid and acid-base balance in the cells and tissue and maintain blood pressure. Potassium and other electrolytes—such as magnesium and chloride—perform numerous, multifaceted roles in the body. They work in concert with sodium to regulate acid-base, electrolyte, and water balance; conduct nerve impulses; promote normal muscle contraction (including the heartbeat); regulate the transfer of nutrients to cells; and maintain the normal function of the kidneys, heart, and nerve cells. An imbalance of any electrolyte can have far-reaching, serious effects within the body.

Salt tablets present problems for athletes if taken orally to correct sodium deficiencies. In their raw form, salt tablets are often difficult to digest, causing gastric irritation, with accompanying nausea and diarrhea a common side effect. The stomach has difficulty in the immediate digestion of salt tablets, meaning that the benefit of the sodium is delayed; sports drinks, and their nutrients, are far easier for the body to absorb. Swallowed alone, without significant fluid to accompany the salt tablet, the sodium will act to further accelerate the dehydration of the body. -World of Sports Science

Post Exercise Rehydration

Inclusion of sodium (0.5-0.7 g ? l-1 of water) in the rehydration solution ingested during exercise lasting longer than 1 h is recommended since it may be advantageous in enhancing palatability, promoting fluid retention, and possibly preventing hyponatremia in certain individuals who drink excessive quantities of fluid. There is little physiological basis for the presence of sodium in an oral rehydration solution for enhancing intestinal water absorption as long as sodium is sufficiently available from the previous meal. ACSM Position Stand on Exercise and Fluid Replacement (note: it says "rehydration"- sodium would be appropriate for individuals that drank "excessive" volumes of fluid

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