We Lose Minerals When We Sweat
Our bodies regulate heat through perspiration or sweat. But when the body sweats, it also removes dissolved minerals in those fluids as well, leading to a serious condition we know as dehydration. This dehydration will impact performance.
Fluid Losses Impact Heat Regulation, Blood Volume, and Performance
Studies indicate that fluid losses of just 2% of our body weight will impact heat regulation. At 3% loss of body weight from sweat, there is a decrease in muscle cell contraction times. When fluid losses equal 4%, there is a 5-10% drop in overall performance which can last up to four hours.
Minerals We Lose Through Perspiration Are Necessary To Restore Blood Volumes
Lost in the perspiration of the body are electrolytes and essential minerals. Electrolytes, are electrically charged ions that help carry oxygen in red blood cells to muscles, brains, and throughout the body. Mineral replacement is essential to restore proper blood volume. Without them the quality of performance during long-term or explosive short-term exercise decreases.
Electrolytes Regulate Body Temperature and Heart Rate During Activities
Another benefit of electrolytes with regard to hydration is that it helps athletes maintain a higher blood volume. Higher blood volumes help to prevent body temperature and heart rate from rising during prolonged exercise.
While sodium is a key component in increasing blood volume, a study published in the Journal of Athletic Training found that the amount of sodium has less of an impact. According to the study, high-sodium sports drinks were no more effective than a low-sodium sports drink in regulating body temperature and preventing "cardiac drift" (rising heart rate during prolonged exercise).
Not Just Sodium For Proper Body Function
Most athletes think that hydrating with sodium or potassium are the only minerals we need to replace during exercise. That's wrong.
According to specialist in sports nutrition, Nina Anderson, there are a host of essential minerals which are necessary for the entire body and brain to function properly. These should include the trace minerals such as: copper, magnesium, zinc, chromium, cobalt, selenium, iodine and others.
Here are the Critical Nutrients and How They Work:
Boron. Boron is a mineral that aids in the retention of calcium and magnesium in the bones. Studies indicate that boron improves the production of antibodies that help fight infection and markedly decreases peak secretion of insulin from the pancreas.
Chromium. Chromium is an essential nutrient required for normal sugar and fat metabolism. As an aid to glucose metabolism, chromium is essential to the regulation of blood sugar and fat metabolism. It protects against cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, and helps decrease body weight. Supplementation is essential if you eat white flour, milk and sugar as those foods steal chromium from the body an excrete it unused.
Cobalt. As the key mineral in the vitamin B12 molecule, it is essential for proper nerve function and red blood cell formation.
Copper. Copper is required for the absorption and utilization of iron and the regeneration of blood. Copper and zinc together are crucial to the formation of collagen, connective tissues, and the protein fibers found in bone, cartilage, ligaments, dental tissues, and skin. Copper is utilized by most cells through enzymes involved in energy production, strengthening of connective tissue, and in brain neurotransmitters.
Iodine. The thyroid gland needs this mineral to support metabolism, nerve and muscle function, physical and mental development. Deficiencies can lead to reduced brain function, growth stunting, apathy, impaired movement, speech, or hearing.
Magnesium. Not only does magnesium facilitate 300 fundamental enzymatic reactions, it also functions in the activation of amino acids and plays a key role in nerve transmissions and immune system operation. Numerous ATP-dependent reactions use magnesium as a cofactor. This essential mineral enjoys a reciprocal relationship with calcium. In our muscles, calcium stimulates muscle fibers to tense up and contract whereas magnesium encourages the muscle fibers to loosen up and relax. Stored in the bones (60%) and muscles (40%), magnesium is called upon during exercise. Since bones do not release magnesium easily, the muscles are the target. The result may be cramps, irritability, or twitching.
Manganese. An essential element concentrated primarily in the bone, liver, pancreas, and brain. Mangnese factors into cholesterol metabolism, normal skeletal growth and development. Manganese is responsible for transmitting nerve impulses to the muscles and for metabolism and RDA and DNA production. It is an important cofactor in the key enzymes of glucose metabolism.
Potassium. Potassium performs countless vital functions in the body supporting the nervous system, aiding in digestion, and providing the electrolyte charge to the cells. Most of the total body potassium is found in muscle tissue. Because of its link with the metabolizing, oxygen-consuming part of the body, a decline in total body potassium is usually interpreted as a loss of muscle mass.
Selenium. Shown to have a role in the detoxification of heavy metals, such as mercury, selenium plays a role in the production of antibodies in the immune system and may help prevent cancer and other degenerative diseases. Selenium protects cell membranes, cell nuclei and chromosomes from environmental damage.
Sodium. Sodium acts together with potassium to maintain proper body water distribution and blood pressure, therefore being a primary ingredient necessary for rehydration. It is also important in maintaining the proper pH balance and to facilitate the transmission of nerve impulses. People with pronounced losses of sodium through heavy perspiration or diarrhea may experience decreased blood volume and a fall in blood pressure that could result in shock.
Zinc. Zinc is vital to the function of 90 enzymes that regulate dozens of bodily processes. It supports the immune system and fights infection, assists in chelating heavy metals from the body, improves vision, sexual potency and enhances the senses. Zinc also aids in cell respiration, bone development and growth, wound healing, and the regulation of heart rate and blood pressure.
Guidelines To Rehydrating During Activities
During long periods of activities, experts often recommend individuals 'drink to thirst'. While this varies by individual, most people fall between 14 to 18 fluid ounces per hour of exercise.
Keep in mind some individuals will sweat more than others. And fluid losses will be higher in heat and humidity.
Avoid Dehydration By Replacing Both Liquids and Minerals
It's important for athletes and active individuals to be aware of the importance of minerals to rehydrating during activities. But its equally important to realize that the mineral in the body are not only sodium and potassium.
Trace minerals play critical roles within the body's balanced ecosystem. Its important for endurance athletes to consume an electrolyte source that contains a broad array of essential trace minerals to help regulate blood volume and maintain proper brain and muscle function during endurance training.
If you would like to learn more about electrolyte and carbohydrate replacement for athletes, download the free publication "Runners Guide To Electrolyte and Carbohydrate Replacement" on our website.