Salt Tablets

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Re: Salt Tablets

Postby CUaaron25 » Fri Feb 13, 2009 10:55 am

thebeave7 wrote:Well, whether or not it is a good idea depends on the individual and the type of activity being performed. I take electrolyte caps(home made) regularly while running during warmer months of the year(April-Sept), but usually only on runs of greater than 1hour in length, as much as 800mg/hour. Taking supplementary electrolytes, not just sodium salt, but potassium, magnesium, and calcium can be very beneficial if you are sweating quite a bit. This is a very regular practice among ultra marathon runners, who's 3-35 hour races can severely deplete electrolyte stores within the body, to the point where just drinking water can cause hyponatremia, which can be just as dangerous as dehydration, if not more so.

So the general answer is yes, it can be safe and is something that many people practice. In regards to you specifically it depends on the level of exertion you are planning and how much you sweat during exercise. Personally I'm a high salt sweater, meaning that when I sweat I develop a lovely crust of salt on my skin(I can even chip off flakes sometimes), so I have to supplement more than others might. If you are hiking at a low level of exertion, then just eating some salty foods should suffice, but if you wish, supplementing your water with 100mg of salt per 12-20oz (give or take a little) can be beneficial to hydration. Many of the drink mixes you buy (Gatorade, GU2O, Heed, Accelerade, and so on) for hydration include between 50-200mg of sodium per 12oz exactly for this reason. If you feel that you're drinking lots of water, peeing a lot, but still feeling the effects of dehydration then maybe try supplementing with a little salt. Remember, everything in moderation.

The reason MDs tell people not to take extra salt is that many people eat way too much in their daily diet, thus don't need the extra, just look at your specific situation. I try to avoid all those prepackaged meals, microwave dinners, and canned foods specifically for that reason, they are insanely high in sodium.


Chris/Eric, (????)

Would using salt tablets stave off leg cramps? I've done the Denver marathon the last two years and in each one have had major leg cramps in both hamstrings and calves. It especially sucked last year when I was primed to qualify for Boston and then fell 5 minutes short because the cramps killed me at 23. Its like a huge flash of pain, one second I’m fine and the next I'm on the side of the road in agony trying to stretch out my legs. Any suggestions to stop this? The first year I used Gatorade ever five miles and one GU at 20. In 08 I used Gatorade every two miles and GUs every 30 minutes. I don't really feel like launching another marathon campaign until I can figure out what I’m doing wrong. Your insights would be greatly appreciated!
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Re: Salt Tablets

Postby lazy climber » Fri Feb 13, 2009 6:23 pm

Without getting into a physiology lecture, in general, for moderate to short heavy periods of exercise you will probably will not need salt tablets. What you eat and drink after will more than likely replenish your "salt" loss. For longer, harder exercise, gatoraid type drinks( commercial or homemade) should keep you topped off. In hot weather and strenous exercise it may be worth taking extra sodium.

For those that take a lot of sodium tablets while exercising it might be good to get some blood work done and see what your sodium levels are, high levels are not such a good thing.

Muscle cramps during exercise could be several things, calcium and potassium (electrolites) deficiency could be an issue, but what do I know????

Ask your doctor about those kind of things.
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Re: Salt Tablets

Postby rickinco123 » Fri Feb 13, 2009 6:41 pm

My father was a Navy Doc and spent a lot of time with the Marine Corp. When stationed in hot places he gave out salt pills.

Salt pills should not be sodium chloride ( table salt ). They should be a mix of salts, potassium chloride, sodium chloride, calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, etc.

I have always had problems with cramping muscles. My father told me it is probably an electrolyte imbalance. I have used salt pills for about 4 years now, I used to use E-mergenC. The salt pills are easier to take and more affective.

That being said, a doctor I am not, so if you are concerned or have a history of high blood pressure, talk to yours.
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Re: Salt Tablets

Postby bayouboy » Fri Feb 13, 2009 7:24 pm

I've never used salt tablets, but I sweat a lot. My wife gets grossed out after I exercise in any capacity. When I cool down, the salt actually crystalizes on my head, hat, and anything else that gets wet. What can I say...
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Re: Salt Tablets

Postby thebeave7 » Fri Feb 13, 2009 7:25 pm

lazy climber wrote:For those that take a lot of sodium tablets while exercising it might be good to get some blood work done and see what your sodium levels are, high levels are not such a good thing.

My daily salt intake is very low, I don't eat prepackaged foods, and cook for myself pretty much every night. As I mentioned above, everything in moderation, I only take high amounts of salt on hot days when I sweat a lot, this time of year I really don't take any when running.

As mentioned above, cramps could be caused my electrolyte deficiencies, drinks like gatorade only replenish a small amount, and during a race like a marathon you'd be lucky to drink enough gatorade to take in 200mg of sodium, not really enough for a 3-5h run if its moderately warm out(for many runners). Cramps could also be caused by a whole host of things, could just be muscle fatigue as well, or dehydration, or who knows. No harm in experimenting with some E-caps(small amounts of electrolytes).

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Re: Salt Tablets

Postby breezytrees » Sat Feb 14, 2009 12:55 am

For six years as a teenager I took 15 salt tablets per day- I had extremely low blood pressure. I had trouble oftentimes buying them at pharmacies because the pharmacists there would lecture me ad nauseum about how people should not take salt pills- but I would convince them otherwise given my medical hx- but there are things to be wary of. For a normal person, no you should not be taking salt tablets- you should drink gatorade and perhaps eat some saltines or ramen (salty food), followed by a good amount of water. For leg cramps you need potassium so eating bananas helps there. My background is in biochemistry and my own personal history so I am no doctor, but from a scientific standpoint, if you are sweating and losing salt, the concentration of salt in the blood decreases and so you need to supplement this- however, you are also losing water in the act of sweating, so if you just add more salt and not enough water you will greatly increase your salt concentration from that of "normal" and get an almost opposite, and sometimes extremely harmful, affect. Salt on its own does not combat dehydration, only in conjunction with a lot of water as well (say you took 4 tablets, I don't know what a "normal" dose is, you should probably drink a liter of water with them over the course of 30 minutes). Also beware of un- "buffered" salt tablets if you do choose to take them- they have a tendency to upset your stomach even if you take them with food/water. But from my point of view, if you don't have to take them- don't... unless you are a physician and have low-blood pressure, perhaps. Good luck though!

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