Overdosing on Electrolytes?
Is there any harm in taking electrolyte supplements daily? I take sodium and potassium in tablet form every morning with breakfast, and more if it is a particularly hot or active day. I feel a lot better when I take them. Can regular use decrease their effectiveness?
Unless you're exercising so vigorously that you sweat profusely during daily workouts, I'm not sure why you would take electrolyte pills regularly. Electrolytes are the major minerals: potassium, chloride and sodium. They help maintain the body's water balance, help muscles contract, and help transmit nerve impulses. You lose small amounts of electrolytes when you sweat heavily during exercise. But most people don't have to replace them because the amounts lost are too small to matter, and they are easily replenished with a snack after working out.
If you've been taking sodium and aren't sweating it out with vigorous workouts, you may be getting too much. Because most people get much more than they need in their daily diets, it is hard to see why anyone would need any extra (with the exception of endurance athletes who sweat heavily for long periods of time and do need to replenish electrolytes). If you're getting more potassium than you need, your body will just get rid of it -- however, excessive amounts could lead to heart problems. And if you're salt sensitive, any excess sodium and chloride can affect your blood pressure.
In general, if you feel you're losing a lot of sodium or potassium during exercise, I would recommend replacing those substances by eating some fruits or vegetables afterwards. Based on what you've told me, I don't think the electrolyte supplements are doing you any good, but there is a possibility they could be harmful. You do need to be aware that exercise-related sweating can lead to dehydration. To avoid this, be sure to drink lots of water during and after exercise.