Apple cider vinegar is highly acidic and difficult to drink in large amounts without consuming a lot of water, which can lead to complications that disrupt your sodium content. Fad diets that encourage you to drink apple cider vinegar to lose weight are largely unproven and could lead to complications such as a sodium deficiency. You should talk to your doctor before undertaking any diet that calls for you to drink apple cider vinegar to avoid these complications and any possible interactions with medications you may be taking.
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Sodium is an electrolyte that works in concert with other electrolytes such as potassium, magnesium, chloride and calcium. When one electrolyte is off balance, the other salts in your system also are affected. According to the Mayo Clinic website, apple cider vinegar interacts negatively with certain medications such as insulin and diuretics which can lead to low potassium levels. Potassium and sodium are closely linked in your body for proper heart function, muscle contraction and digestion.
Hyponatremia, or sodium deficiency, occurs when the water surrounding your cells becomes unregulated. After sustained use of apple cider vinegar that disrupts potassium levels, combined with drinking excessive amounts of water, you can develop sodium deficiency. Electrolytes are processed through the kidneys, which is why kidney failure often causes electrolyte levels to fall. When you drink too much water or other fluids, you can experience hyponatremia, which also leads to heart and liver failure. Extensive blood loss and excessive exercising without replenishing your electrolytes also can lead to hyponatremia.
Many of the symptoms of low potassium and low sodium are similar. Common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, fatigue and loss of energy. When apple cider vinegar disrupts potassium levels, you may undergo muscle cramps and constipation as well, also signs that your sodium levels are unbalanced. You should see your doctor if you experience any signs of hyponatremia, which also may include confusion, headaches and irritability. Untreated, sodium deficiency can lead to coma, unconsciousness and seizures.
It’s the prolonged use of vinegar as a supplement that puts you most at risk. Occasional use of apple cider vinegar usually is safe for most people, according to the Mayo Clinic website. Not all applications that call for drinking apple cider vinegar are harmful either. For example, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar diluted in a cup of warm water may be helpful for relieving the symptoms of food poisoning. While apple cider vinegar often disrupts insulin activity, according to the Harvard Medical School, small doses of the vinegar may help control blood sugar levels if you have type 2 diabetes. Again, only take the vinegar with your doctor’s approval.