Sponsored by Vitassium
I recently moved to Texas for school, and I can’t get over the seemingly endless summer. It’s October now, and we’re still having near 100-degree days. I live with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), an autonomic nervous system disorder that affects your heart rate, blood pressure, and even ability to adjust to different temperatures. That’s why the Texas heat has been a challenge to say the least.
Since being diagnosed with POTS in 2017, I’ve realized that the heat affects me in surprising ways. I don’t leave air conditioned spaces if it’s over 75-degrees, so why is it that I still feel the effects of a heatwave? I’m not exercising: I’m just reading a book — when I should be studying — and my brain feels sluggish, my skin feels warmer, and my heart rate is a little bit more elevated than it would be in the winter, despite not doing anything physical. If I do go outside, I immediately feel like the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz.
I’ve realized over the years that my body is just extremely sensitive to temperature changes. It shows me the warning signs of heat exhaustion much faster than a typical person. It’s also revealed how important proper hydration is to tackle these challenges. Even when your body is exposed to warmer environments without exercise, you’re still going to sweat to help regulate your temperature. You might not notice it as easily as you would when exercising in the heat, but you’re still losing water and electrolytes.
Electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and chloride are essential for your body, and most people don’t realize that drinking “a lot of water” isn’t necessarily the best route to stay hydrated. There are no electrolytes in plain water, so drinking too much of it will dilute the electrolytes in your blood. Your blood is mostly made up of water, but in order to absorb the water you drink, electrolytes are needed. These tiny but mighty ions not only play an important role in maintaining your blood pressure, but also help keep your heart rhythm steady and are required for muscle contraction. If you’ve ever gotten muscle cramping from exercising, it’s not from the lack of water per se that causes the cramp in your leg — it’s from the lack of electrolytes.
For people living with POTS, the need for proper hydration is critical as many with this condition have low blood volume and lower blood pressure as a result.This effect can make it difficult to adjust to the upright position, causing symptoms like dizziness and a racing heart because your body is struggling to pump blood effectively throughout your body. There are many studies that show higher salt diets can be beneficial for those living with POTS because they may help improve blood pressure and reduce orthostatic symptoms, especially in the heat. That’s why I drink almost all of my water with electrolytes or a salty snack. Who would say no to salted caramel ice cream that has over a gram of sodium per pint? Definitely not me. Unfortunately, getting the recommended amount of sodium per day for someone living with POTS can be quite difficult. I personally find a minimum of 3 grams of sodium in the winter and up to 10 grams of sodium in the summer to be very helpful to reduce my symptoms. Despite my love of pouring salt on my food, I just can’t get enough from salty foods alone, and more cavities from my current ice cream obsession also aren’t the best option. That’s where products like Vitassium that were specifically created for people with chronic illnesses like POTS have really helped me manage my electrolyte intake, especially during heatwaves.
I like taking salt pills because they help me increase my sodium intake without having to make all my meals taste like I’ve dumped pickle juice on them. Sometimes, I just get tired of over-salted food, and bouillon cubes instead of a nice cup of iced tea can get very boring. High salt foods can sometimes upset my stomach, but salt pills like Vitassium have been great and salt pills can be an easy way to increase my sodium without having to worry about my food allergies and sensitivities. I also like having salt pills because they’re easier to take on the go. They take up less space and don’t contain any sugar. Plus, salt pills like Vitassium also have other electrolytes like potassium to help maintain your overall electrolyte balance.
If you’re having trouble with maintaining your blood pressure, especially if you’re living in a warm climate, try adding some electrolytes. It’s made a huge difference for me — I used to drink nearly nine liters of water a day in the summer. Now, I drink closer to four liters a day with more electrolytes and feel a whole lot better. Do you have any tips or tricks? Let me know in the comments below — I’d love to hear your take!
Consuming high amounts of sodium can negatively affect certain health conditions. The “right” level of sodium intake is specific for each person, so it’s best to speak with your doctor before increasing your sodium intake above the daily recommended limit.
Want to learn more about Vitassium? Check out their capsules that have 500mg of sodium and 100mg of potassium per serving, or their FastChews for a quick, smaller dose of sodium. Plus, if you live with a chronic illness you can sign up for the Vitassium Club (that’s free!) to receive up to 25% off and free shipping on select orders. Learn more here.