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What's All This Salt About? Hyponatremia - The Endurance Athlete's Silent Killer

Endurance athletes can be sticklers when it comes to what they put down the hatch. They have to be picky because they are pushing their bodies well beyond simple physiology. At times however one can become so driven by goals and the athlete's "mental block" that a simple everyday compound can gradually run low. If this compound runs dangerously low an individual can have some very serious complications. In today's world SALT is considered bad and for good reason.....because it is easy to consume too much of it. Processed food contains extreme amounts of salt for preservation. When one consumers meal after meal of processed food the salt adds up.

Salt is a necessary compound for the human body and in the absence of salt our bodies could not survive. Salt is utilized in the body for blood volume and water balance, controlling pH in the body, helping to conduct nerve impulses, and in turn creating muscle contraction. Chiefly the biggest muscle to demand salt is the heart. The prolonged effort of an endurance athlete is why the presence of salt is so critical for both performance as well as bodily regulation.

Most athletes would agree that when it comes to longer bouts of performance they will need supplementation of fluids and possibly foods before completing the task. Hydration is important for sustained activity to prevent dehydration. Significant dehydration is considered 5-10% of one's body weight.


Signs of Dehydration

  • Most reliable sign of dehydration is loss of body weight after competition. To observe this one should weigh themselves dry and naked both before and after activity.

  • Other signs of significant dehydration include severe thirst, dry mouth, difficulty creating saliva/spitting