Sports drinks are a favorite of athletes and some exercisers to quench their thirst and replenish lost nutrients. These drinks contain calcium, sodium and other minerals called electrolytes. An imbalance of electrolytes may be harmful. Sports drinks can help prevent or decrease some conditions by increasing electrolytes, but drinking them may result in complications like kidney stones, osteoporosis and calcium overdose.
Sweat and loss of electrolytesPlaying sports and working out increases body temperature and results in sweat to cool the body. Sweat contains fluid and electrolytes, such as calcium, sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium, phosphate, bicarbonate and sulphate. These all leave the body through perspiration. Sweating too much without replenishing lost fluid eventually causes dehydration and possibly heat stroke or circulatory collapse. Drinking water hydrates the body but does not replenish lost electrolytes. Sports drinks contain electrolytes and carbohydrates, which the body burns for energy during exercise. Depending on how much a person sweats, sports drinks may therefore be more beneficial than water.
Muscle cramps and dehydrationMuscle cramps are a possible side effect of dehydration. Drinking sports drinks helps prevent cramping by raising electrolyte levels in the body and staving off dehydration, according to a Medical News Today article published online in July 2005. Consuming a diet that includes carbohydrates and electrolytes can also reduce the amount of fatigue experienced during exercise. People are most at risk for cramping during endurance activities that last over an hour; drinking sports drinks becomes more beneficial during these times.
Electrolyte imbalanceMuscles need calcium, potassium and sodium to contract, according to Level 4 Performance Coach Brian Mackenzie. Muscles contain electric tissue that are activated by electrolyte activity. If the level of calcium, sodium or potassium is too low or too high, called an electrolyte imbalance, muscles become weak or experience severe contractions. Symptoms of an imbalance include seizures, numbness, lethargy, twitching, irregular heartbeat and confusion. Electrolyte imbalances can lead to bone and nervous system disorders.
Kidney stones and osteoporosisSports drinks are high in sodium. When the body excretes sodium, it also excretes calcium. This causes high levels of calcium to form in the urine, potentially increasing risk of kidney stones, according to the James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute. The high levels of calcium in urine also leaves little calcium for bones. The body leeches calcium from bones to bind to sodium for excretion. The loss of calcium makes bones weaker and less dense, which increases risk of osteoporosis.
Calcium overdoseConsuming sports beverages, particularly while also taking calcium supplements or a multivitamin high in calcium, may result in hypercalcemia. Hypercalcemia is a condition caused by too much calcium in the body. Overdoing it on supplemental calcium is a known cause, according to the Mayo Clinic. High calcium levels interfere with brain and nerve function, muscle contraction and the release of hormones because of the role calcium plays in these functions. Symptoms of hypercalcemia include nausea, weakness, excessive thirst, muscle aches, joint aches, abdominal pain and constipation.
Editor's Note: It's got 'lectrolytes! BRAWNDO! Hey folks, don't forget about all the toxic crap found in sports drinks, either: Artificial colors, chemical sweeteners, corn syrup from GMO corn. The best "sports drink" is coconut water.
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About the author:
Sarka-Jonae Miller is a health writer and novelist. She was certified as a personal fitness trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine and the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America. She also worked as a massage therapist, group exercise instructor and assistant martial arts instructor.
Miller's premiere novel, "Between Boyfriends," was recently published http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006Q6TSCS/ref=cm_cr_mts_prod_img