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What are Salt Pills?

Salt pills.
A person with leg cramps, which can sometimes be treated with salt pills.
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  • Written By: J. Beam
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 August 2014
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Salt pills, more commonly known as salt tablets, are usually sold as a dietary supplement in the form of buffered sodium. Their purpose is to replace a suspected loss of sodium through sweat during rigorous physical activity over a long period of time. Similarly, those consuming a pure vegan diet may also choose to supplement their sodium intake. It is unlikely that the average person, whether vegan, athletic, or not, will receive advice from a medical professional to take supplemental salt, however.

While many years ago it was more common for athletes to take salt pills, modern sports medicine emphasizes the importance of a proper balance of electrolyte intake. Maintaining a balance of salt and water is crucial to metabolism and bodily function. While triathlon and marathon athletes may still use these supplements, it is a practice that is advisable only when extremely large amounts of water are being consumed and intake is being monitored by a medical professional. In most cases, sports trainers recommend consuming low-sugar sports drinks that have been formulated to contain a proper balance of electrolytes.

The reason salt pills have been deemed unnecessary in most cases is because a majority of people who live in Western countries consume more salt than is recommended. Salt is used in the preparation and preservation of many foods, and those who eat out or eat pre-packaged foods regularly are likely consuming more than enough sodium. Even people who eat a strictly vegetarian diet typically require no salt supplementation.

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While a certain amount of sodium in the blood stream is necessary, an excess results in a metabolic imbalance known as hypernatremia, which ultimately can result in seizures and death. Similarly, the opposite condition, hyponatremia, too little sodium, can also be fatal.

Though many individuals, especially those who remember when these pills were a common solution for the loss of sodium through perspiration and were also recommended for leg cramps, are still curious about supplementing salt, it should not be done lightly. Due to the delicate balance of water and sodium, along with other electrolytes, needed for metabolic health, it is not advisable for anyone to take supplements without the advice of a licensed dietitian or other healthcare professional.

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Discuss this Article

anon965971
Post 12

Saline solution is superior to salt tablets in my view. I live in the tropics and play a lot of tennis in hot and humid conditions, losing at least a liter per hour of sweat. Tablets are difficult to digest, don't work immediately, and must be taken with the proper amount of water. Saline solution is premixed in a proper proportion and makes it easier to time the dosage. A few sips of saline along with a lot of water on the changeovers seems to prevent dehydration and sunstroke.

anon347806
Post 11

Salt tablets are the first line of treatment for a condition called Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. It is a form of dysautonomia, and is frequently associated with hypovolemia (low blood volume) and hypotension (low blood pressure). For each salt tablet (containing 180 mg of Sodium), the patient should drink at least 8 ounces of water. There are other treatments for low blood volume, including medications like Florinef, DDAVP, and Erythropoietin, and saline IV therapy. For many patients, salt tablets are the most practical, safe and affordable treatment.

burcinc
Post 10

What's buffered sodium?

If I just put table salt in capsules, will it be the same as natural salt pills?

turquoise
Post 9

@literally45-- That's true but sometimes salt pills can be necessary, even when there isn't a sodium deficiency.

For example, people who have to work under the sun in the summer and sweat excessively or those who suffer from dehydration due to diarrhea and vomiting lose an immense amount of sodium. It's not easy to replace this salt quickly through food. This is when salt pills come in.It can replace the lost salt and prevent hyponatremia.

In the case salt pills cannot be found, natural sparkling water should be drank instead of still water because it has sodium. A cool yogurt beverage with salt is also an excellent way to replace the lost sodium on hot summer days.

literally45
Post 8

There is so much salt in all the foods we eat that it seems unlikely that anyone would suffer from a sodium deficiency. On the contrary, more and more people must be getting high blood pressure because of their salt intake.

anon299425
Post 7

People with disorders like Addison's must take salt tablets occasionally because they urinate frequently and so-called well balanced sports drinks contain potassium, which would be dangerous for Addison's patients, since the disease tends to make people retain potassium.

There is no single simple rule. See your doctor about the proper application of sports drinks and salt tablets, especially if you are ill.

anon170556
Post 6

Does anyone know where I can find these salt tablets?

anon92902
Post 5

to anon44507: No, that's a bad idea. taking salt pills in and of themselves will not help you sweat less.

anon88824
Post 4

My son also needs to increase his sodium intake as per physician order for hypotension (low blood pressure). I was considering salt tablets, and have checked with his cardiologist, who agrees that they may be beneficial.

anon44507
Post 3

I noticed when I sweat I develop acne. It don't take much for me to sweat anyway. I was planning on taking salt pills so I don't sweat so much thus reducing acne production. Should I take salt pills?

anon31586
Post 2

If I was in the desert for a little time, what good would salt pills do for me?

frdx2000
Post 1

I have very low blood pressure and leg cramps. I have been advised to take salt tablets. This advice has come from a physician and a dietary person.

Does any one have any information regarding this usage of salt tablets? Thank you.

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