What is Dehydration?
What are Electrolytes and Why are They Important in Sport?
Why are Electrolytes Important for Athletes?
Importance of Magnesium (Mg) in Sport
Importance of Sodium (Na) in Sport

Sodium takes place in the organism as the most important and most abundant inert cation in the extracellular fluid and is the most important cation. It is necessary for maintaining the sodium acid-base balance and regulating the osmotic pressure of the fluids in the body. It helps to maintain blood volume and stimulates the desire to consume fluids. Maintaining blood density is important for sports performance. This is associated with the ability to transport nutrients to cells, removal of metabolic waste products from cells, and maintenance of perspiration level.

The main feature of sodium bicarbonate is that it delays the pH decrease by increasing the extracellular buffering capacity. Fatigue occurs with an increase in acidity due to the accumulation of lactic acid and hydrogen ions in the muscle, and thus a decrease in pH. Sodium bicarbonate, on the other hand, has a delaying effect on fatigue by affecting this situation. In this respect, it shows a performance-enhancing effect in continuously high-intensity exercises.

It interacts with potassium in the body. Potassium is mostly found in red blood cells, while sodium is found in plasma. A balanced presence of sodium and potassium ions in the body is necessary for nerve stimulation and healthy functioning of muscle tissue. Due to sodium deficiency, symptoms such as cramps, headaches, hypertension, muscle fatigue, pain, respiratory failure, irregular heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, dizziness can be seen in the body.

Sodium chloride is rapidly and completely absorbed in the small intestine. Sodium is needed for the excitability of nerves and muscles. A nerve muscle preparation, which has lost its ability to be stimulated by contraction many times or for some reason, can regain this ability when placed in sodium solution.



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Importance of Potassium (K) in Sport

Potassium is the body's second most important cation. As a result of potassium deficiency, loss of muscle strength, heartbeat irregularities and cardiovascular system disorder, slowing of reflexes, shortness of breath and fatigue can be seen. Lack of potassium causes muscle fatigue, respiratory failure, vomiting, cramps, decreased appetite, irregular heartbeat and mental confusion. Transmission of neural impulses is also important in glycogen storage. In the literature, it has been stated that the serum potassium level increases at loads exceeding 60% of the maximal heart rate. It has also been stated that in the case of an increase in the level of potassium in the blood, potassium passes out of the cell from the active muscle fibers and reduces muscle performance.

Potassium is also effective in muscle health. In order for the muscles to function properly, potassium is needed inside the cell. These minerals, which are more or less than needed, can cause problems in muscle health. Potassium also prevents hypertension. Foods containing large amounts of salt can cause hypertension, while low consumption of foods containing potassium can also cause hypertension. People with potassium deficiency are more likely to have high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes.

Potassium is an essential mineral for body fluid pressure and electrolyte balance. Thanks to the balance between potassium and sodium, electricity is created that allows the cell to function properly. This electricity ensures that the nerves are stimulated and the muscles work regularly. If the balance between potassium and sodium is disturbed and there is not enough oxygen to the brain, the heart rhythm will be impaired. This is a very risky situation, especially for athletes. It also prevents the pH of the blood from changing. Potassium, which has a tight bond with glycogen metabolism, emerges with the breakdown of glycogen. Potassium has functions in the organism such as balancing muscle mobility, regulating heartbeat, helping to maintain the balance of intracellular and extracellular fluids.


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Importance of Calcium (Ca) in Sport

Calcium, which is the most abundant mineral in our body, is one of the most important minerals that provide muscle contraction. In addition, it is important to take calcium so that the pressure on the bones does not cause negative results while the body is working. It is involved in the development of bones and teeth, blood coagulation, nerve conduction, control of heartbeat and transport functions of the cell membrane. Calcium is involved in muscle contraction and oxidation of carbohydrates during training.

It provides muscle contraction, nerve impulse transmission, ion transport and transmission of signals across the membrane. With the decrease in the amount of calcium in the blood, cardiac spasm and tetany occur, and with its increase, conditions such as heart and respiratory failure occur. The amount of calcium in the blood is also important for the blood clotting factor. Calcium absorption occurs within four hours of ingestion. It helps in the oxidation of carbohydrates. Considering the exercise-calcium relationship, it is noted that very vigorous exercise can increase calcium loss.

The presence of the active form of vitamin D, vitamin C increases the absorption of calcium, while excessive intake of zinc and aluminum reduces the absorption of calcium.



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Lactic Acid and Fatigue

The greatest inhibitory factor of performance in sports of high and moderate intensity is the feeling of fatigue resulting from the intensity of exercise and the accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles. During exercise, carbohydrates break down and glucose molecules, when oxygen is present, enter the energy production process. If oxygen intake is not enough then there is lactic acid production, which allows cells to continue to produce energy (ATP) at a lower rate.

The accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles makes them less efficient to contract, causes fatigue and a burning sensation, thus negatively affects athletic performance.

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Importance of Sodium Bicarbonate in Sports
Under normal conditions, bicarbonates are produced by the kidneys and help regulate the pH of the blood (acidity regulation). The body, in order to prevent muscle damage due to the accumulation of lactic acid, produces a series of molecules, such as bicarbonates, proteins and phosphates that balance the acidity of blood.

The exact mechanism by which alkalinization of blood pH has ergogenic action has not been established yet. According to some studies, it is believed that taking sodium bicarbonate helps reduce lactic acidosis. Its action seems to helpful in short-duration sports of high intensity, in moderate duration sports such as sprint, cycling and swimming, as well as in moderate intensity and duration sports such as tennis and boxing.

How much do we need?

Bicarbonate soda is given in doses of 200-300mg/kg, 60-90 minutes before exercise with plenty of water. For activities of higher duration, it can be taken within a shorter period of 45-60 minutes before exercise.

A second way of taking bicarbonate soda is along with a meal, with the dose being increased up to 500 mg/kg divided into 3 doses in the day. It is recommended that bicarbonate soda should not be taken on on the day of activity, in order to avoid any gastrointestinal disturbances.

What is the undesirable effects?

High doses of bicarbonate soda can cause immediate stomach and gastrointestinal disorders such as cramps, gas, nausea and vomiting. For this reason, the first dose is recommended to be half of the recommended dose, in order to check for tolerance.

In case of chronic consumption of bicarbonate soda, it is recommended to receive also supplements of potassium. Chronic use of sodium bicarbonate supplements significantly increases the risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease. One teaspoon of bicarbonate soda contains 1260mg of sodium. People with hypertension, history of cardiovascular disease and chronic kidney disease are recommended to avoid taking bicarbonate soda.


How does it affect interval training?

Interval training is when a person alternates between intense and less-intense exercise during a single session.

Some examples of this type of training include forms of running, cycling, rowing, swimming, Olympic weightlifting and CrossFit.

Studies that looked at this type of exercise found that sodium bicarbonate helped prevent decreases in performance.

This generally led to overall improvements of 1.7–8%.

Interval training is very common in many sports, and studies find that sodium bicarbonate intake can benefit judo, swimming, boxing and tennis.

Finally, the ability of sodium bicarbonate to help you push through the final stages of your workout may also improve your workout results.


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