Why and When You Should Use a Hydration Supplement
Hydration and exercise go hand-in-hand. And if you’ve recently upgraded your fitness routine — possibly with a new eating plan and supplements — you may wonder if your hydration could use a boost as well. Is that trusty water bottle filled with regular H2O enough? Or could you benefit from a hydration supplement like Ladder Hydration? Here’s what the experts say.
What Are Hydration Supplements?
“Hydration supplements are additives put in water to facilitate or enhance your body’s natural ability to absorb water quickly and reduce the potential impacts of dehydration,” says Amy Stone, an endurance coach in Miami who specializes in long-distance running and ultra triathlons. They do that by boosting the levels of certain electrolytes — such as sodium, magnesium, and potassium — that help the body’s cells maintain fluid balance.
In the case of Ladder Hydration, you’ll get a lemon lime powder that contains sodium, calcium, magnesium, and zinc to help fight muscle cramping, replace what’s lost through sweat, support muscle power during workouts, and promote overall hydration levels.
Hydration supplements come in the form of a drink mix or capsule. You can take them before, during, or after exercise.
Do Hydration Supplements Work?
While the liquids you’re taking them with are providing hydration, the supplements work by providing minerals to your body.
Can Water Hydrate Me Enough by Itself?
Sometimes, but not always. Water helps keep the body’s fluid levels stable, but that’s only one element of hydration. “We need electrolytes, too,” says Julom. “This doesn’t necessarily mean using supplements. There are plenty of foods that are rich in various electrolytes. Usually, simple table salt will help to remedy symptoms of light dehydration.”
Julom adds that when you engage in an intense workout, especially in hot weather, hydration supplements might help keep you safe and aid recovery to maintain desired athletic performance.
“During exercise, fluids with electrolytes are a much faster way to replenish electrolytes,” says Stone. “Electrolytes can help the fluid absorb more quickly out of your digestive system. They help our bodies send and receive instructions to contract and release muscles, and they may potentially reduce cramping in tired muscles.”
Research is limited, so more studies are needed to conclude that electrolytes can help with cramping.
Why Is Hydration Important?
Adequate hydration is essential for the proper functioning of organs throughout the body, explains Bansari Acharya, MA, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Detroit. Hydration also helps regulate body temperature and keep joints lubricated.
What Do Electrolytes Do to Help With Hydration?
When we sweat, electrolytes help keep the water balanced inside and outside cells so that your muscles and organs can continue to function properly.
We lose electrolytes, especially sodium, in perspiration — that’s why sweat tastes salty. “Sweating a lot — as we do during hot weather or intense exercise — can lead to dehydration, including a deficit of crucial electrolytes,” says Julom.
Acharya notes that potassium is important for muscle function and strength. Low potassium levels can lead to fatigue and weakness.
Magnesium helps the body retain potassium, Acharya adds. The kidneys help regulate magnesium concentration dependent on the body’s current levels.
“Taking in electrolytes as part of your rehydration will help you to replace those lost minerals,” says Julom. “Electrolytes will also make your water intake more efficient, as electrolytes like magnesium, calcium, potassium, and sodium can help you to retain fluid and maintain healthy fluid balance in your body.”