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.
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 Iâ€™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 Iâ€™m doing wrong. Your insights would be greatly appreciated!