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EC number: 205-633-8
CAS number: 144-55-8
This paper reviews the theoretical mechanisms whereby bicarbonate may enhance physical performance at high intensities. Ingested bicarbonate elevates the bicarbonate concentration in the extracellular space, but not the intracellular space. The mechanism by which bicarbonate loading exerts its influence may be through the elevation of the extracellular bicarbonate concentrations, which then increases rate of efflux of H+ from the intracellular space.
Others claim that the ingested sodium changes the strong-ion difference, and that this change, not the bicarbonate per se, produces the increase in blood buffering capacity. The typical protocol employed to administer a sodium bicarbonate buffer was a dose of 0.1-6.0 mmol/kg given as a single oral dose (solution or capsule), either as one dose 1 hr before performance, or as repeated doses taken over several hours before performance. A positive correlation was found between bicarbonate dosage and the extent of improvement in performance, using data generated from mean values reported in the literature. 0.3 g/kg is the apparent minimum effective dose. The ergogenic effects of bicarbonate appear to be most consistent either when exercise protocols involve repeated sprints that are interspersed with short recovery periods or when protocols commence at submaximal intensities, becoming progressively more difficult, and culminate at near-maximum levels. During a performance the blood bicarbonate system becomes the primary mechanism for buffering H+ only after the subject reaches the anaerobic threshold. Despite the existing results it hasn't yet been conclusively demonstrated that buffers can improve sport performance.
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