Sodium Benefits, Recommended Intake, Food Sources & Risks Of Too Much Sodium

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Sodium is an important mineral that is commonly found in table salt, which is 40% sodium. Sodium is different from other minerals as it has a distinct and appealing taste. It works closely with the other electrolyte minerals potassium and chloride. While potassium is mostly stored inside cells, 60% of sodium is found in the fluids surrounding cells, with 10% within the cells and 30% in the bones. Most of our sodium intake comes from sodium chloride, commonly known as salt. Sodium is sometimes assumed as a bad thing to avoid due its famous side effect in causing hypertension. However, lacking in sodium is also leading to a bad impact on your health. So the best way is to properly consume sodium in the right amount depending on your need. Reading food labels can help you see how much sodium is in prepared foods.

Health Benefits Of Sodium

Regulating Fluids

As it is able to keep you hydrated, sodium is also excellent in regulating the fluid in your body. The fluid outside your body’s cells can be properly regulated by the proper amount of sodium in your body, preventing your body from experiencing water loss.

Muscle Contraction

Cramping is a major issue for athletes, and it’s common for runners to suffer through them. This is directly related to sodium, as “heat cramping” occurs when the body loses too much sodium during exercise. By maintaining sodium levels, you can combat muscle cramps and encourage the proper muscle contractions that will keep those strides going.

Prevents Sunstroke

The problem of sunstroke can be attributed to the loss of salt and water from the body. Due to this, the body is unable to maintain the normal temperature as a result of continuous exposure to very high temperatures. Sodium plays an important role in preventing sunstroke by replacing the loss of essential electrolytes. Therefore it is recommended to drink fluids containing salt and sugar to provide relief against sunstroke.

Improves Brain Function

The brain is very sensitive to change in sodium levels of the body; deficiency of sodium often manifests as confusion and lethargy. It aids in keeping the mind sharp, and it is an important element for the development of the brain since it works to improve brain function.

Slowing Down Aging Signs

Free radicals make your skin aging, losing its youth. Most women use anti-aging creams to fight the signs of aging as they get older and you can find sodium as one of the ingredients of many of them. This is the sodium hyaluronate, which can help your skin more moisturized while preventing the early aging signs. This kind of sodium is actually available in your skin when you are younger and this is also the reasons why your skin is supple and young. As people get older, the amount of sodium hyaluronate is decreasing, making the skin loosened and aged. For this reason, many anti-aging creams include this sodium for keeping the skin moisturized.

Maintenance of Glucose Absorption

Absorption of sodium in the body’s small intestine aids in the absorption of chlorides, amino acids, glucose, and water. It also helps in the re-absorption of these nutrients after being filtered from the blood by the kidneys.

Maintains Acid-base Balance

By altering the proportions of acid-base alkali phosphates in the body, sodium controls the reaction of the kidneys and the frequency and content of urination.

Sodium RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance)

The RDA for sodium is currently no more than 2.3 g, or 2,300 mg, of sodium daily for healthy adults. That is equivalent to about 1 tsp. of salt a day. According to the Institute of Medicine, the maximum daily intake of sodium are the following:


Sodium Daily

1 to 3

1,500 mg

4 to 8

1,900 mg

9 to 13

2,200 mg

14 to 18

2,300 mg

People who are sensitive to sodium should only consume 1,500 mg of sodium per day. Sensitive populations include adults over 50, blacks or those diagnosed with hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends preparing your foods with very little salt and emphasizing fruits, vegetables, and other potassium-rich foods. Potassium is a mineral essential for good health, and high amounts in your diet can counteract some of sodium’s effect on blood pressure levels.

What Are The Common Sources Of Sodium?

More than 75 % of the sodium we consume comes from packaged, prepared and restaurant foods (breads and rolls, cold cuts and cured meats, pizza, soup, sandwiches and etc). The rest of the sodium in our diets occurs naturally in food (about 12 percent) or is added by us when we’re cooking food or sitting down to eat.

The latter only makes up only about 10 percent of our total sodium intake, so even if you never use the salt shaker, you’re probably getting too much sodium. Because most of the sodium we eat is in our food before we buy it, it makes it hard for people to limit how much sodium they are eating.

What Happens To My Body If I Eat Too Much Sodium?

In most people, the kidneys have trouble keeping up with the excess sodium in the bloodstream. As sodium accumulates, the body holds onto water to dilute the sodium. This increases both the amount of fluid surrounding cells and the volume of blood in the bloodstream. Increased blood volume means more work for the heart and more pressure on blood vessels. Over time, the extra work and pressure can stiffen blood vessels, leading to high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. It can also lead to heart failure. There is also some evidence that too much salt can damage the heart, aorta, and kidneys without increasing blood pressure, and that it may be bad for bones, too.

High blood pressure is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease. It accounts for two-thirds of all strokes and half of heart disease. In China, high blood pressure is the leading cause of preventable death, responsible for more than one million deaths a year.

Sources & References:

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image source: Pixabay Sodium is an important mineral that is commonly found in table salt, which is 40% sodium. Sodium is different from other minerals as it has a distinct and appealing taste. It works closely with the other electrolyte minerals potassium and chloride. While potassium is mostly stored inside...
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