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Salt: How It Effects Athletes and Everyone Else

Considering Himalayan Pink Salt? Be Careful! It's Not What It's Hyped Up to Be

By Rhonda Wilson, Bodyomics.com
Our bodies, whether you're an athlete or a couch potato, need sodium in our diet. Depending on our lifestyle and our existing health status, the amount of salt required daily is different. No matter who you are, an excess of sodium is unhealthy or at the very least, not beneficial. Our bodies use sodium in order to help to balance our blood volume and allow our muscles and nerves work as they were designed.

Be Cautious About Any Kind of Salt Intake

An excess of sodium can throw our blood volume off, initially increasing the amount of water we are holding onto and increasing the volume of blood coursing through our veins causing high blood pressure to develop. A lack in sodium can induce headache, fatigue, muscle cramps, muscle spasms, nausea and vomiting and more. Extremely low sodium is considered a medical emergency which can end in coma or death. As with most everything we do and take into our bodies it is best to use in moderation.

The question here is, does the type of sodium we take in make a difference? Many of us have heard that Himalayan rock salt, Sea Salt or any number of other substitutes contain such wonderful health benefits compared to our childhood Iodine instilled Mortons Table salt. It's touted everywhere that the mineral content in these other salts add much needed electrolytes to our daily diet, will lower blood pressure, stop muscle cramping, will hydrate us and the list goes on. Lets look closer at a few of the 'healthier' salts and see what is truth and what is hype.

Himalayan Rock Salt

This gourmet salt is mined solely from the Punjab region of Pakistan at the Khewar Salt Mine. This salt mine, found by none other than Alexander the Great in 326 BC, is the second largest in the world. The salt is the pretty rose color due to iron oxide, otherwise known as rust. The first record of mining was kept in the 1200's but likely mining has occurred since its discovery. The product is indeed unprocessed and arrives on your store shelves or your door step the way it was discovered, apart from pounding it to crystal size. Tests done of the crystals state they contain 84 elements (like oxygen and hydrogen), macro minerals like potassium and calcium and trace minerals from zinc to radioactive plutonium. Although this salt provides natural salt crystals of larger size owing to the lack of processing and a cumulative mineral content providing a great flavor, the nutrition value is about the same as table salt. this is because the mineral content is so low and does not even register as a percentage on our daily requirement.

Sea Salt

Flavorful and largely unprocessed, Sea salts larger crystals sit nicely atop your favorite recipes. Sea salt is collected via an evaporation process than can take up to five years to complete. The only solar sea salt producer in the US is south of San Francisco. Next to the ocean, ponds are dug with channels connecting them. The ponds are exposed to wind and largely sunny days supporting the evaporation process. As each pond evaporates down, the remaining saline water is shuttled to the next pond. This process is continued until the salinity has reached a level high enough for harvesting. The mineral content of sea salt has been mistakenly reported as the same as Himalayan Rock salt down to a still high 60. Truthfully, the mineral content is based on where the salt is being produced. Sea Salt is harvested all over the world, both from oceans and salt water lakes. As with Himalayan Rock Salt, the mineral content can be thanked for the better flavor of the salt but is not significant enough for human nutritional support.

Table Salt

Common table salt is most commonly mined from salt mines. Interestingly, the deposits we extract salt from were left behind by ancient oceans. This lends to the belief all salt is sea salt! That said, table salt is highly processed to remove all impurities, meaning those minerals that all salt has to some degree. Due to this process it is necessary to then add an anti-caking or clumping agent to allow the salt to free flow for easy pouring. An example of which is magnesium carbonate. As many of us are aware, most table salt is enriched with iodine. It's interesting to note that iodine began to be added to salt in the 1924 at the governments direction. This was due to a large amount of Americans, including children, were presenting with goiters which is an enlargement of the thyroid gland due to hypothyroidism. The thyroid gland requires iodine to create thyroxine which is imperative to healthy thyroid function. Iodine comes from groundwater and soil and many areas were lacking or deficient in this vital mineral. This is still naturally the case, but we now ship many vegetables and fruits from many areas around the country so we are less likely to suffer as those did previously. Still, iodine continues to be added to most regular table salt and also around the world.

True Benefits of Himalayan Pink Salt and Sea Salt?

In the end, the only benefit that is safe is most likely using it when cooking and giving flavor to food. Because those trace minerals are so low, despite all the claims, and because that sodium is still so high, it's simply dangerous for people to consume Himalayan pink salts in frequent dosages hoping for more minerals.

Himalayan Pink Salt is Healthier than Table Salt ... But It's Still Salt

Himalayan Rock salt and Sea salt provide the benefit of far less processing. What you get is so true to form of its natural existence that alone can be a good reason to choose it over the more processed table salts. Minerals are allowed to remain within the crystals adding to their great flavor. The salts themselves are courser and provide potentially better culinary meals. The larger grains are easier to spread with meat rubs and the like where table salt is more likely to clump together.

Hype About Himalayan Pink Salt -- More Harm than Good In Frequent Use

No matter the source, sodium is sodium. This is true with any form of salt you choose to buy. It's most definitely true that salt can aid in the reduction of muscle spasm and cramping - if sodium deficiency is the cause. Contrary to reports of Sea and Himalayan salts being lower in sodium are completely unfounded. Any difference in content is minute. Overuse is just as likely to lead to increased blood pressure {if you're prone) and water retention.

Increase hydration? Indeed. Salt does cause your body to initially hold onto water. At healthy levels, sodium is very effective and necessary in retaining the correct balance of fluids which balances your blood volume to help keep your blood pressure at healthy levels. Too much of fancy salt or any other initially causes you to retain far to much water which increases your blood volume that then boosts up your blood pressure.

So do the fancier salts add electrolytes to your diet? Yes, sodium. The amount of minerals in any unprocessed salt is not anywhere near enough to affect any other electrolyte. And the statement of lowering blood pressure... perhaps... if you overdue the sodium too long and begin to dehydrate..but that is most definitely not a low pressure you want. This can occur when your body tries, as best it can, to wash your body of excess sodium. Unfortunately water and other electrolytes are washed away too.

Purchasing different salts to add some flair and flavor to your kitchen is absolutely without harm. Using salts that require less processing and additives of course is also a wise choice. Caution is only advised in believing that 'other forms' of sodium are somehow a miracle cure for anything. Salt is consumed for its sodium content. Our bodies require sodium. No matter the color, size or location it was collected, salt is salt.

References

Types of Salt: Himalayan vs Kosher vs Regular vs Sea Salt

Himalayan Pink Salt vs Table Salt

84 Minerals Claimed to be in Himalayan Salt ... Along with Sodium

Pink Himalayan Salt: Does It Have Any Health Benefits?

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