Sodium is one of the most abundant minerals on Earth. The sodium atom is most comfortable when it gives up an electron. Thus, sodium in foods as well as in the body will have a positive charge (Na+). Sodium involves in electrical events of body with chloride and potassium as electrolytes. Anew, an electrolyte is a substance that when dissolved into a body of water will increase the speed of the electrical conduction of the water.
Sodium is a mineral that occurs naturally in foods, such as celery, beets, and milk, or is added during manufacturing or processing. While sodium and salt tend to be used interchangeably, they are not the same. Everyday table salt is actually a combination of sodium and chloride. By weight, salt is about 40 percent sodium and 60 percent chloride. Sodium is an important electrolyte. The human body requires sodium to support the functioning of nerves and muscles and to maintain the right balance of fluids. The kidneys control the amount of sodium in the body.
What Foods and Other Substances Contribute to Our Sodium Intake?
Sodium is most abundant in highly processed foods. Canned soups, lunch meats, and frozen dinners tend to have higher amounts of sodium. Other higher sources of sodium are bread products, pizza, sandwiches, and poultry. Sodium (in the form of salt) is also commonly added to dishes during cooking or at the table before eating. Some over-the-counter and prescription medications have sodium; people taking those drugs are probably unaware of this source. Although sodium can be purchased as a supplement, it should be taken only under the supervision of a health-care provider.
|Food name||Weight (g)||Sodium (mg)||DV%|
|Black turtle beans||240||922||61%|
How Much Sodium Do We Need Daily?
The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine recommends that healthy people between the ages of 19 and 50 years should consume 1.5 g of sodium (1,500 mg) and 2.3 g of chloride each day or 3.8 g of salt. The tolerable upper intake level for salt is set at 5.8 g per day.
The American Heart Association recommends that people consume no more than one teaspoon of salt per day from all sources; one teaspoon of salt has about 2,300 mg of sodium. The association suggests that most adults would benefit from no more than 1,500 mg per day. But Americans tend to consume more than 3,400 mg per day of sodium. The American Heart Association asked 1,000 adults to estimate their sodium intake. One-third was unable to provide an estimate; another 54 percent thought they were taking in less than 2,000 mg sodium per day.
Health Benefits of Sodium
Discussed below are some health benefits of sodium intake:
- Prevent muscle cramps
Potassium and sodium are two primary electrolyte minerals in the body which are tasted with regulating fluid and electrolyte balance and prevent serious complications. Low sodium levels could result dehydration and painful muscle cramps. It is essential to ensure the recommended dietary sodium amounts but not overdue it if involved in activity resulting profuse sweating.
- Prevention of diabetes
Mostly people do not relate sodium with prevention of diabetes as it is an underrated mineral that helps to improve the way to handle glucose by the body. Sodium helps to assure insulin sensitivity and ensures excess glucose not to be remained in blood for longer than it requires to be. It helps to lower chances of developing type 2 diabetes due to large degree of insulin dysfunction related with disease.
- Treat cystic fibrosis
Cystic fibrosis is associated with respiratory ailments, it also includes other symptoms such as inhibition of body’s normal water and salt balance by preventing movement across cell membranes and cause production of very salty sweat since more sodium is excreted than normal. It is essential to ensure adequate sodium is replaced by dietary means.
- Digestive health
Sodium in its natural form of salt is chemically known as sodium chloride. Hydrochloric acid is the primary digestive aid in stomach which needs chloride ions for synthesis to continue at optimal rate. Common table salt is the best source of dietary chloride ions which naturally occurs with sodium as well. Enough consumption of table salt helps to ensure that food consumed is digested properly.
- Tones vessels
Potassium and sodium regulates to tone blood vessels. On the other hand, sodium helps to assure sufficient pressure in blood vessels to resist force of blood and promotes blood flow to and from heart. So the conditions which result in sodium depletion are related with hypovolemic shock and possibly death.
- Oral health
Sodium chloride gargle is the effective way for treating sore throat and preserve oral health. It is able to suppress bacterial growth and infection possibilities. It also possess anesthetic properties which lowers tooth pain and helps to strengthen gums and lower inflammation which occurs as a result of an infection.
- Sunstroke prevention
Sunstroke is the dehydration affecting fluid balance in the body and resulting severe muscle cramps in the body including heart and vascular system. Pure water has low boiling point than saltwater so sodium is helpful to prevent sunstroke. If one has not adequate fluid balance between potassium and sodium, the body is not likely to overheat as fast it would have. In addition, excess heat helps to accelerate depletion of sodium ions that makes it essential that should be replaced in timely manner.
- Brain activity
Sodium has a crucial role in brain where it supports in conduction of nerve signals along neurons in brain so end result of transmission could be executed. It is required for coordination during movement and should translate well for preventing typical brain fog and related dizziness or inability to focus.
- Slows aging process
Topical use of anti-aging preparations on skin include some form of sodium compound as it combat free radical activity on skin. Free radicals could damage skin and promote breakdown of structural protein collagen which results older skin than real. Most of the moisturizers contain sodium which is the most important things for preventing excessive evaporation of water that promote hydrating properties.
- pH balance
pH is a measure of balance between acid and alkali compounds having overall body requiring slightly alkaline-neutral environment for best cellular function. Sodium balances this helps in kidney functions, promote urine excretion as urine being an acidic compound. It prevents recycling of ions into blood which make it more acidic and supports with regulation of normal function.
- Sound sleep
Sodium is a mineral containing anti-catabolic properties that helps to minimize effect of stress hormone cortisol on the human body. Due to this people with low sodium diet has higher problems of getting sleep or staying asleep. Unless one has hypertension, intake of sodium is a better choice within normal ranges and not avoids it completely.
- Assist to lose weight
Sodium is effective for water retention; actually it could assist with weight loss. Sodium is noted for its ability to suppress cortisol levels. Cortisol is a potent hormone which promotes fat and water retention. Cortisol has stronger effect on gaining weight than sodium alone. It could influence other hormones to lower metabolism of fat.
- Promote appetite
Literally taste of food has strong correlation with actual appetite which clears why bland food does not motivate to eat. It is good news for those who wish to lose weight. Intake of sodium within daily recommended levels and only lower this if one is predisposed to hypertension or other diseases related with sodium disorders.
Can Sodium Deficiency Develop?
On contrary to most essential nutrients whereby pecularity emanate from diet deficiency can take weeks, months, or even years to develop. Electrolyte imbalances can lead to alterations much more rapidly. Low presence of sodium in the body result in alterations in activity of excitable tissue including nerves, brain, and muscle. This can occur within a day or two.
Because of the abundance of sodium in the human diet, the potential for a deficiency is somewhat low. However, certain situations may place some people at a greater risk. These include eating a very low-sodium diet in conjunction with excessive sweating and/or chronic diarrhea. Still, even under these conditions deficiency is very rare. Excessive sweating makes us thirsty and beverages would probably include some sodium. Furthermore, since the sodium concentration in our sweat is lower than in our blood it would take the loss of a couple of pounds of body weight in the form of sweat before any distress would occur.
Ingesting salt tablets on a hot day used to be a common practice, especially for athletes. However, this practice is no longer recommended for several reasons. Initially it cause intestinal discomfort or possibly diarrhea. Then it would add more sodium to the body than lost in sweat. To adjust elevated sodium concentration in the blood, more urine would have to be produced. This would lead to more water loss from the body, which during athletic performance could be a problem.