Salt tablets provide the necessary amount of salt required for the body, for those, who have salt deficiency. This HealthHearty article talks about these tablets, their consumption, and possible side effects, if taken incorrectly.
Salt has been one of the oldest known diet supplements in its natural form. Its chemical formula is NaCl. Of course, modern times have brought in many advances, like, sophisticated healthy energy drinks, supplements, energy builders, and similar products to enhance the durability of athletes or people in general. Salt in the form of tablets has been used since the late 1800s. It was then used by laborers working in hot and heavy industrial environment. Also, it was used by national armies during World War II, helping soldiers fight dehydration in jungle and desert environment. Lately, its use has been increased considerably in sports, helping athletes and other sportsmen.
What are Salt Tablets?
They are tablets containing sodium and chloride. They are also known as salt pills and are usually sold as a dietary supplement. Salt is discharged from our bodies in the form of sweat (every liter of sweat contains approx. 2.5-3.5 grams of salt). Hence this loss of sweat is replaced by taking these tablets. If these tablets are not taken with water, there are chances of substantial salt imbalance. For proper metabolism of our bodies, it is important to maintain proper salt water balance.
Generally, the use of these tablets is not necessary for most of us. That is because, in some or the other way we consume more than the required amount of salt. The reason is that salt is used in the preparation and preservation of many foods we consume. People who consume packaged foods and also, those who eat outside frequently, are more likely to consume more than the required amount of sodium. People who strictly follow a vegetarian diet don’t require salt supplements. There has been a gradual increase in the use of these tablets for runners, athletes, triathletes, etc.
Sodium is a necessary component for the body to perform all its functions properly. The sodium level in our bodies must be appropriate, as low level of sodium is harmful. However, even access of sodium levels can also be fatal. This condition is known as hypernatremia. It results in metabolic imbalance and can result in seizures and death.
The condition when the sodium levels are low is known as hypornatremia, which is equally fatal. Hyponatremia can lead to severe consequences, because in this condition, even if the body is dehydrated, it will not take the required amount of water from the stomach through the small intestine, and this is because low levels of sodium triggers the body not to take in more water without sodium being available.
We know that sodium is lost from the body through perspiration and urine excretion. When we sweat, it also releases potassium, which is a salt in itself. It becomes important to let the sodium remain in proportion in our body. Sodium can be replaced through diet sources or through supplements. It helps to maintain the proper salt level, which gets lost naturally. Salt tablets are also used as a nutritional support for heat prostration, muscles cramps, chronic fatigue, etc. Patients with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) take such tablets to retain fluids in their system. This increases blood volume to reduce the symptoms of the health condition.
It is also used as a supplement in the form of sports drink. The tablets, if taken with a sports drink or fruit drinks, which naturally contain potassium, are easier to digest. They go well with these drinks because they already contain a considerable amount of salt. If the tablets are taken orally, can be a problem for athletes. In their raw form, the tablets are difficult to digest, and they may cause problems like diarrhea, nausea, and gastric irritation. Since, it is difficult for the stomach to digest them, it also means that their effect will also be delayed. If a salt tablet is taken without a fluid, there are more chances of the body getting dehydrated. Taking the tablets for dehydration, with water, ensures that both of these are available to the body in proportion.
It is advisable to take salt tablets, only if you are not getting enough salt from food and sports drinks. Some minor and common symptoms, like, nausea and mild muscle cramps can be treated by taking salty foods and keeping yourself hydrated with sports drinks. The use of a salt substitute must be done, only if it has been prescribed by a specialist. However, it is highly recommended to seek medical advice before you indulge in any medication.