Like many POTS patients, I have low blood volume, and must consume large amounts of fluid in order to increase it. In order to “hold on” to all the fluid I drink, I must also consume large amounts of sodium. Nurses tend to do a double take of my chart when they see a few grams of sodium daily listed on my medication list.
The large volume of mainstream articles online about “hidden sources of sodium” makes it easy for a gal like me to Google and come up with a list of common, sodium loaded drinks and foods.
Today, I am going to focus on drinks in particular, because a popular recommendation in the POTS community is to drink electrolyte (sports) drinks in order to get enough sodium and other electrolytes. Electrolyte drinks work great for tons of patients and there is nothing wrong with using them. However, I notice many patients don’t know the sodium profile of electrolyte drinks versus other options, and I would like to help change that.
Due to gastroparesis, I like to look at how I can get the most of a nutrient in as little volume of food as is possible, and sodium is no exception. I’m about to nerd out on you with numbers because I’ve been wanting to figure this out, and I figure what better place?
Before I move forward with nerding out, here is a link to a post about how I fluid/sodium load first thing in the morning to try and work around my digestion issues.
Alright. Here we go. First up, is canned broth and/or bouillon cubes. I get 2.4 grams (2400 mg) of sodium (that’s 103% of the daily value for healthy person) in a pint of fluid by using 1.5 of these bouillon cubes. Such condensed bouillon doesn’t suit everyone’s taste buds, but to give you perspective, it would take about 11 pints of Gatorade, 13.5 Thermotabs, or 180 non-broken Ruffles potato chips to get that much sodium.
Another potent source of sodium and electrolytes is Campbell’s tomato juice. Twelve ounces (3/4 a pint) has 970mg of sodium. It would take 4.5 pints of Gatorade or ~5 Thermotabs to equal this. As an added bonus over broth, it also has potassium, which is the ying to sodium’s yang. This serving size of tomato juice has 570mg of it which would take 9.5 pints of Gatorade or 38 Thermotabs to equal.
I drink a glass of Gatorade every morning because I think it is delicious, not because it is the best drinkable source of sodium. I personally find sports drinks to be a poor (and pricier) choice for anything aside from helping me gain weight or for enjoying the flavor. They also are a good choice when I need to to drink something, but don’t want to risk washing out sodium with excessive water intake (if I’m out of balance), yet also don’t need to massively sodium load. When I need to sodium load, I prefer to drink broth and tomato juice since they are sodium dense.
Often, people choose electrolyte drinks because they want other electrolytes (potassium, calcium, magnesium) in addition to sodium, but in reality, these drinks aren’t an impressive of a source of other electrolytes. Sports drinks have more electrolytes than water, but not much (if any) potassium, calcium, or magnesium.
To give perspective of how little potassium they tend to offer, one potato had as much potassium as 15.5 pints of Gatorade. A single serving of yogurt has as much potassium as 10.5 pints of Gatorade, and a banana as much as 7 pints of Gatorade. How much potassium companies can use to fortify beverages and food is regulated. Excluding prescription potassium pills, the most potent sources of potassium are juices and foods in which it is naturally abundant.
I will write another post about electrolytes in general. Let me know if there is anything in particular about electrolytes you’d like to learn. For now, I will say I get my potassium from food when I can, and tomato juice when I can’t. I take a calcium/magnesium supplement to round out my electrolytes.
End note: This post is me not being a perfectionist, and posting what I am able. *pats self on back* I recall writing a piece (for personal use) comparing the amount of electrolytes found in popular electrolyte drinks with the amount found in various drinks and foods. However, like socks in the dryer, it seems to have vanished. I have accepted this post’s focus being drinks and sodium. (For now. Later, I shall hunt every corner of my computer and flip through all of my notebooks until I have what I need to write the post I had envisioned.)
I have even accepted the fact I just realized I forgot to include almond milk in this post’s analysis, despite the point of this post being my preferred drinks to get electrolytes… *takes deep breath*
Ah-ha! I have found a loophole. This is good news because my brain wasn’t buying my deep breathing. This post is about potent drink sources of sodium, and while almond milk is comparable to Gatorade in its sodium content, it is not a potent source. Phew! Now I will be able to fall asleep tonight. (Actually I probably won’t… but at least it won’t be due to almond milk!)