What are Salt Pills?

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  • Written By: J. Beam
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 15 February 2019
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Salt pills, more commonly known as salt tablets, are usually sold as a dietary supplement in the form of buffered sodium. Their purpose is to replace a suspected loss of sodium through sweat during rigorous physical activity over a long period of time. Similarly, those consuming a pure vegan diet may also choose to supplement their sodium intake. It is unlikely that the average person, whether vegan, athletic, or not, will receive advice from a medical professional to take supplemental salt, however.

While many years ago it was more common for athletes to take salt pills, modern sports medicine emphasizes the importance of a proper balance of electrolyte intake. Maintaining a balance of salt and water is crucial to metabolism and bodily function. While triathlon and marathon athletes may still use these supplements, it is a practice that is advisable only when extremely large amounts of water are being consumed and intake is being monitored by a medical professional. In most cases, sports trainers recommend consuming low-sugar sports drinks that have been formulated to contain a proper balance of electrolytes.


The reason salt pills have been deemed unnecessary in most cases is because a majority of people who live in Western countries consume more salt than is recommended. Salt is used in the preparation and preservation of many foods, and those who eat out or eat pre-packaged foods regularly are likely consuming more than enough sodium. Even people who eat a strictly vegetarian diet typically require no salt supplementation.

While a certain amount of sodium in the blood stream is necessary, an excess results in a metabolic imbalance known as hypernatremia, which ultimately can result in seizures and death. Similarly, the opposite condition, hyponatremia, too little sodium, can also be fatal.

Though many individuals, especially those who remember when these pills were a common solution for the loss of sodium through perspiration and were also recommended for leg cramps, are still curious about supplementing salt, it should not be done lightly. Due to the delicate balance of water and sodium, along with other electrolytes, needed for metabolic health, it is not advisable for anyone to take supplements without the advice of a licensed dietitian or other healthcare professional.


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Post 15

From earlier post: "There is so much salt in all the foods we eat that it seems unlikely that anyone would suffer from a sodium deficiency."

I grow and/or fix 90 percent of my own food at home and am an athlete. I have had hyponatremia episodes and didn't know why I felt so bad until just recently. I am considering salt pills so that I get enough sodium in my diet on a regular basis. Thank you for this article.

Post 14

As a letter carrier (walking) I found taking two salt tablets as I left the PO in the morning prevented onset of headache. If I forgot the salt, I experienced a bad headache for the rest of the day and evening. You cannot add salt after the headache starts, it does not work, but if you take salt before onset would normally come, it does not. I typically walked 20 miles daily in Southern California.

Post 13

My son has taken them for years for same issues brought up as anon347806 brought up. Neurocardiogenic Mediate Hypotension. They were recommended by the cardiologist to increase his blood volume along with enormous amounts of liquid a day to help increase his blood volume. They do make a considerable difference in how he is feeling and seem to make a difference in how clearly he is thinking, also. If he stops taking them, he starts to have issues.

Post 12

Saline solution is superior to salt tablets in my view. I live in the tropics and play a lot of tennis in hot and humid conditions, losing at least a liter per hour of sweat. Tablets are difficult to digest, don't work immediately, and must be taken with the proper amount of water. Saline solution is premixed in a proper proportion and makes it easier to time the dosage. A few sips of saline along with a lot of water on the changeovers seems to prevent dehydration and sunstroke.

Post 11

Salt tablets are the first line of treatment for a condition called Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. It is a form of dysautonomia, and is frequently associated with hypovolemia (low blood volume) and hypotension (low blood pressure). For each salt tablet (containing 180 mg of Sodium), the patient should drink at least 8 ounces of water. There are other treatments for low blood volume, including medications like Florinef, DDAVP, and Erythropoietin, and saline IV therapy. For many patients, salt tablets are the most practical, safe and affordable treatment.

Post 10

What's buffered sodium?

If I just put table salt in capsules, will it be the same as natural salt pills?

Post 9

@literally45-- That's true but sometimes salt pills can be necessary, even when there isn't a sodium deficiency.

For example, people who have to work under the sun in the summer and sweat excessively or those who suffer from dehydration due to diarrhea and vomiting lose an immense amount of sodium. It's not easy to replace this salt quickly through food. This is when salt pills come in.It can replace the lost salt and prevent hyponatremia.

In the case salt pills cannot be found, natural sparkling water should be drank instead of still water because it has sodium. A cool yogurt beverage with salt is also an excellent way to replace the lost sodium on hot summer days.

Post 8

There is so much salt in all the foods we eat that it seems unlikely that anyone would suffer from a sodium deficiency. On the contrary, more and more people must be getting high blood pressure because of their salt intake.

Post 7

People with disorders like Addison's must take salt tablets occasionally because they urinate frequently and so-called well balanced sports drinks contain potassium, which would be dangerous for Addison's patients, since the disease tends to make people retain potassium.

There is no single simple rule. See your doctor about the proper application of sports drinks and salt tablets, especially if you are ill.

Post 6

Does anyone know where I can find these salt tablets?

Post 5

to anon44507: No, that's a bad idea. taking salt pills in and of themselves will not help you sweat less.

Post 4

My son also needs to increase his sodium intake as per physician order for hypotension (low blood pressure). I was considering salt tablets, and have checked with his cardiologist, who agrees that they may be beneficial.

Post 3

I noticed when I sweat I develop acne. It don't take much for me to sweat anyway. I was planning on taking salt pills so I don't sweat so much thus reducing acne production. Should I take salt pills?

Post 2

If I was in the desert for a little time, what good would salt pills do for me?

Post 1

I have very low blood pressure and leg cramps. I have been advised to take salt tablets. This advice has come from a physician and a dietary person.

Does any one have any information regarding this usage of salt tablets? Thank you.

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