Do runners need more salt?

Sodium – do we need it?


Do runners need more salt?
Too much salt has been linked with high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack.
 In rare cases, a dangerous condition called hyponatremia can occur if the salt to water ratio in the body becomes unbalanced. Note that this is caused by drinking too much water, not by taking in too little salt.

Don’t sweat – there’s no need replenish all the sodium you lose through sweat, though. In fact, studies show that there is no difference between runners’ performance when using a typical sports beverage vs. a high sodium one. Keep in mind that high sodium sports drinks also aren’t protective against hyponatremia since the condition is caused by drinking too much water, regardless of salt intake. In fact, taking in too much salt can be bad for your health because it can hinder your body’s ability to hydrate.

Be mindful when taking salt tablets, though. Experts don’t agree on whether they’re helpful or harmful. Follow the directions on the package carefully.

Fueling Facts
Maintain your peak condition with a balanced diet.
Athletes don't have to go overboard, however. Shay helped a runner who had done a 100-mile race and couldn't understand why he had gained 10 pounds. As it turned out, he was taking salt tablets and using electrolyte drinks throughout the race–more sodium than his system could process, even at an ultradistance.

"When your levels are off balance, you create a difficult environment for your muscles to function [in] properly–too much sodium, you'll get bloated," she says. "It's almost the same as your thirst mechanism. Your body tells you when it's thirsty. If you're craving salt, you need it–but don't take it blindly. Realize that most gels have a little bit of electrolyte in them, and it's probably enough to get you through a marathon."

Next-Generation Sports Drinks
New products claim to be more easily adbsorbed. Is it hype or science?
Noakes contends that electrolytes are unnecessary during exercise. Although sodium and other minor electrolytes are lost in sweat, the relative amount of sodium lost is less than the amount of water lost. So in athletes who do not drink anything at all during a long run, blood sodium concentrations actually go up, not down. This also means that a sports drink with sodium in it won't prevent hyponatremia.

Noakes, however, points to research showing that people who lose a lot of salt in their sweat already have an excess of sodium in their diet; their bodies are trying to get rid of sodium by sweating it out.

Getting the salt intake wrong will cause hydration problems. 
Too much salt can cause nausea and bloating. 
Excessive salt seems to be related to Electrolyte Capsules.