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Salt During a Race?

A study from new Zealand shows that taking extra salt during athletic competition helps to prevent loss of fluid, and therefore prolongs endurance. When you compete in sports for more than an hour, you lose a lot of fluid, which slows you down. Sweat contains far less salt than blood does, so sweating causes you to lose more water than salt and blood salt levels rise during exercise. You feel thirsty only when blood salt levels rise high enough to trigger osmoreceptors in your brain to tell you that you are thirsty. You don't feel thirsty until you have lost at least 2 to 4 pints of fluid. Drinking water and not salt during excise prevents blood salt levels from rising high enough to make you feel thirsty. So, taking salt with fluid causes blood salt levels to rise high enough to make you thirsty, so you take in more fluid and have greater endurance.

Oral salt supplementation during ultradistance exercise. (700 mg/h of sodium.) Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, 2002, Vol 12, Iss 5, pp 279-284.DB Speedy, JMD Thompson, I Rodgers, M Collins, K Sharwood. Speedy DB, 179A Hill Rd, Auckland, NEW ZEALAND

Checked 8/31/08

May 11th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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