Thursday, August 15, 2019

You Definitely Do Not Need Extra Sodium Supplementation, Not Even In Hot Conditions

A few weeks ago I wrote about why it is not necessary to consume sodium to prevent muscle cramps. That post was popular as many runners shared it.

Well, here's further proof and confirmation that you do not have to consume sodium, even in a long ultra marathon.

Researchers found that majority of ultra runners (66 percent) in a race feel that sodium supplements should be made available at aid stations to prevent hyponatremia  and muscle cramping.

Previous research shows that consuming extra sodium does not prevent cramps, dehydration or nausea. Findings actually show that excessive sodium consumption can lead to the extra sodium left as residue on your skin and clothes. This is commonly seen as a white deposit left on your skin especially after a long training session or race.

After you consume too much sodium, it may lead to drinking too much water causing hyponatremia. Trust me here, as I'm guilty of this actually. I spent 2 days in the intensive care unit of a Hong Kong hospital when I had hyponatremia during a 100 km race in November 2000.

The researchers also found that a typical race diet (sports drinks, gels and bars) will usually provide enough sodium for your needs. Moreover sodium itself is not a source of fuel that can help sustain your efforts.

The researchers concluded that that study showed that no sodium supplements are required for ultra marathons in hot conditions lasting 15 to 30 hours (Hoffman et al 2015).


Hoffman MD et al (2015). Sodium intake During An Ultramarathon Does Not Prevent Muscle Cramping, Dehydration, Hyponatremia, Or Nausea. Sp Med Open. 1(1): 39.

Hoffman MD  and White MD (2019). Belief In The Need For Sosium Supplementation During Ultramarathons Remains Strong: Findings From The Ultrarunners Longitudinal Tracking (ULTRA) Study. Appl Physiol Metab. DOI: 10.1139/apnm-2019-0238.

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