Could a Salt Pill Boost Athletic Performance?

Salt Pills Fail to Substantially Benefit Endurance Athletes
Salt Pills Fail to Substantially Benefit Endurance Athletes

(HealthDay News) — Taking salt pills does little to boost the performance of endurance athletes, new research shows. The study was published recently in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine.

Although the study only involved 11 endurance athletes, the findings challenge the widely held belief that salt pills can help these athletes do better during competitions, according to researchers from Saint Louis University. "I recommend that athletes use caution with sodium supplementation, especially when daily intake already exceeds the upper safe limit of 2,300 mg/day for most Americans," study author Edward Weiss, Ph.D., an assistant professor of nutrition and dietetics, said in a university news release.

In the double-blind study, the athletes went through two exercise sessions, one in which they were given either a 1,800-mg salt pill or an inactive placebo. In each session, the athletes performed endurance exercise for two hours, and then were given an exercise performance test. The researchers found no significant differences in performance in either session.

When the results are combined with health concerns about high levels of salt in people's diets, guidelines that call for salt replenishment in athletes should be interpreted conservatively, Weiss added. "While moderate sodium consumption is perfectly reasonable and should be encouraged, high sodium intake is associated with health concerns, like hypertension. Many Americans already consume too much salt on a daily basis," he said.

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