Sodium is consumed by the human body in form of sodium chloride. Sodium chloride is the chemical name for common salt. Sodium is a highly reactive, metallic and alkaline element. It is very essential for life, as it is present in the extra-cellular fluids in the body. This essential mineral is also found in bones and fluids around the cell. It is commonly found in saliva and enzymes. Sodium or ‘Na‘ is the predominant cation in the extra cellular fluid. It works along with potassium, which is another important cation present in the intracellular fluids.
Sodium contains naturally in many foods and is also added in the form of salt or other sodium-containing substances. It is an element that is soft and silvery white in appearance. Usually found inside as well as outside the body, in combination with other elements, it is consumed in the form of sodium chloride.
Sodium is highly reactive, alkaline, metallic and malleable in nature and is essential for regulation of blood and body fluids. Aside from that, transmission of nerve impulses, heart activity, and certain metabolic functions in the human body also require the presence of this particular element. Plants are the only living beings that do not require sodium for their survival.
Benefits of Sodium
- Sodium helps in maintenance of water balance of the body. It helps in pumping water in the cells and regulating the excess cellular fluid in the body.
- Sunstroke or heat exhaustion can be addressed, by consuming food rich in sodium, as they immediately replace the loss of essential electrolytes such as salt and water.
- Right intake of sodium enhances brain activity and keeps the mind sharp. Remember, human brain is extremely sensitive to changing sodium levels in the body.
- Muscle cramps can be avoided by taking foods rich in sodium. Usually in hot season or summer, due to electrolyte imbalance and dehydration, while water keeps the body hydrated, sodium restores the amount of electrolyte loss.
- For glossy and healthy skin, sodium will help you keep the skin youthful and glowing, which is why it is an important hydrating product of almost all anti-aging creams.
- Sodium helps in the absorption of glucose by cells for smooth transportation of nutrients in body cell membranes.
- Sodium plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy functioning of the heart. Apart from upholding the contraction of the heart, it also maintains the blood pressure levels of the human body.
- Excess of carbon dioxide in the body is not beneficial for healthy living. Sodium helps in removing excess amount of toxic carbon dioxide accumulated in the body.
- Another important benefit of sodium is that it balances the osmotic pressure in the human body, by regulating the fluid in body cells.
- Sodium helps in balancing positively charged and negatively charged ions, as it shares an association with chlorides and bicarbonates, which help in maintaining a sound balance between the two types.
- Health Concern: Sodium is one substance most people get too much of. While it is possible to be deficient in sodium, such deficiencies are incredibly rare, and for most people the problem is too much sodium.
- The most serious and well-documented effects of excess sodium in the diet are high blood pressure and heart disease. Anyone who is prone to heart disease or high blood pressure should use caution when eating sodium rich foods.
- Sodium deficiency is quite rare, due to the high levels of sodium in the modern diet. However, symptoms of a sodium deficient diet can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, and muscle weakness.
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Sodium occurs naturally in almost all fresh, whole fruits, all fresh, whole vegetables, seeds, nuts , grains and legumes but those about have the highest amount
Health Concern: Sodium is one substance most people get too much of. While it is possible to be deficient in sodium, such deficiencies are incredibly rare, and for most people the problem is too much sodium.
The most serious and well-documented effects of excess sodium in the diet are high blood pressure and heart disease. Anyone who is prone to heart disease or high blood pressure should use caution when eating sodium rich foods.
Foodstuffs that contain baking soda or baking powder as an active ingredient (sodium containing compounds) also are categorized under foods high in sodium content. Canned and frozen meats such as chicken, ham, tuna or salmon are not a good for those wanting to restrict their sodium intake. Canned meats, are highly processed. As a result, these foods tend to be high in sodium content. A sodium containing solution is often injected into canned foods to enhance taste. Even processed cheese, salty meats, snacks and smoked fish also come in the list of foods high in sodium. Snacks such as peanuts and popcorn are considered to be a rich source of sodium. Dried foods such as pastas and macaroni have high levels of sodium. Grain based foods such as biscuits and crackers also belong to the group of foods high in sodium. Eating of breads, breakfast cereals and pastries can also contribute to a high sodium intake.
Sodium deficiency is quite rare, due to the high levels of sodium in the modern diet. However, symptoms of a sodium deficient diet can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, and muscle weakness.
Treatment of Sodium Deficiency
Sodium deficiency treatment includes intravenous saline, water restriction and administration of diuretics. The person suffering from sodium deficiency is monitored, as rapid stabilization may lead to heart failure. Sodium deficiency is commonly seen in marathon runners or distance athletes. As they keep drinking water while running, their body level of fluids increase leading to dilution of sodium. This condition is also called water intoxication. Thus, they are advised to drink sports drinks, sports gels or other electrolyte replacement supplements.
Daily Requirement of Sodium
According to the National Academy of Sciences, the estimated minimum requirement of sodium for healthy persons ranges from 120mg/day for infants to 500 mg/day for adults and children over the age of 10 years. Sodium deficiency is very rare and the minimum intake of sodium chloride or NaCl is 5-10 grams. An average person consumes 8-10 grams of NaCl or even more.
Therefore, sodium deficiency is a rare disease that affects a person in extreme cases or conditions only. One should follow a healthy diet and consume healthy foods and healthy drinks to avoid any form of deficiency related illnesses.
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