Everyone knows that body sweat is not just water. It contains waste products, salts, and trace elements. A sauna treatment makes you sweat. Aerobic activity makes you sweat. Elevated temperatures stimulate sweating. Some people see sweating during or after a hard work out or other physically-demanding activity as healthy sign, while others tend to see a “loss” of more than water.
So it is important to consider whether we are just losing body waste (that we do not want) whenever we sweat profusely, or are we losing important elements.
Not the usual hyperhidrosis
Concerns about heavy perspiration or hyperhidrosis has to do with the occurrence of profuse underarm sweat or sweaty palms. These are usually treated with topical antiperspirants and even surgery.
People who are diabetic, as in hypoglycemia, may experience heavy sweat as a symptom. But what about about profuse body perspiration under normal physical activity? Do we lose important trace elements when this happens?
Research on the concentrations of trace elements in sweat
Researchers at a Japanese university investigated the concentrations of trace elements in sweat during sauna bathing. They compared the concentrations of the major elements and trace elements in sweat collected under arm with the concentrations from the whole body.
Note that the major elements mentioned in the study include sodium, chlorine or chloride, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Sweat also has trace elements, those found in lower concentrations, such as zinc, copper, iron, nickel, chromium, and manganese. These “trace elements” are vital to our health, so it is interesting to find out what happens to the concentrations in our bodies due to regular activities.
Since some people sweat more profusely than others, are they losing more important trace elements than others?
Chromium has been found to be a significant trace element in diabetes. Research has shown that the toenails of people with type 2 diabetes have lower chromium concentration those of than non-diabetics.
Before you sweat it out…
It is quite clear that there is no adverse effects of excessive sweat from physical exercise, manual work, or sauna bathing, unless you do not drink enough fluid (water) to replace the loss. However, researchers warn that your diet should be adequate in order to replenish lost minerals.
We may also note the following:
- Sweating is a normal body function. It eliminates wastes and serves for thermo-regulation at the same time.
- From the research, trace minerals in sweat from the under arm tended to be lower in concentration than that from other areas of the body.
- A normal healthy diet is able to offset any loss of trace elements from the body under normal conditions such as in Infrared sauna treatments. There was no indication of the researchers showing any concern regarding the occasional sauna baths, or regular exercise.
- Researchers expressed some concern regarding “athletes and workers who work in a hot environment and sweat much habitually.” They recommend that these persons should ingest adequate amounts of trace elements. A balanced diet can take care of this.
Continue to exercise, eat right, and be healthy. A balance diet is usually all a person needs in order to maintain a balance of essential elements in the body.