August 12, 2017

6 Health Benefits of Sodium | Deficiency

Basic Characteristics of Sodium

Sodium is an extremely important mineral for human health. It belongs to the macronutrients, along with calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and other minerals.

The presence of sodium in the body is evenly distributed, both within cells and in the extracellular space, to ensure proper maintenance of water and electrolyte balance in cells and beyond. 

The biggest part of sodium (60%) is located in the extracellular fluid (the fluid surrounding the cells), followed by 30% sodium enters into the composition of bones, a 10% forms an integral part of the cell.

Health Benefits of Sodium

1. In conjunction with the mineral potassium, participates in the transmission of electrical impulses between cells walls. 

2. Sodium is also important in maintaining balance within the cells. 

It becames part of the intracellular fluids and electrolytes where participates in the exchange of substances between the cell and the environment.

3. Together with chlorides and bicarbonates, sodium salts build buffers of blood and bodily fluids, which participates in maintaining acid-base balance in the body.

4. The important role of sodium is maintaining of normal blood pressure. Any imbalance in the concentration of sodium and potassium in the form of increased concentrations of sodium leads to high blood pressure.

5. Sodium enters into the composition of hydrochloric acid in the stomach.

6. The presence of sodium is also important in the maintenance of normal transmission of nerve impulses between nerve cells and muscles.

Sources of Sodium in Food

The well-known and widely used ingredients is salt (NaCl) containing sufficient amounts of sodium needed to meet daily needs. 

It is believed that the daily necessities for man are 2-6 milligrams of sodium. 

The daily sodium needs are higher in people who sweat a lot, because a large amount of sodium excreted through sweat, urine as well.

Plant foods are bad source of sodium, possibly  as middle sources of sodium are cucumber, celery, carrot, beans, dandelion, beets, radishes. 

Fruit is generally a bad source of sodium. Because of the poor representation of sodium in plant foods, vegans and vegetarians need to compensate sodium entering sea salt.

Foods of animal origin are rich sources of sodium allocated to animal offal, meat, fish, eggs, crabs, shells.

It is believed that the spice curry is good source of sodium.

Foods that have added salt, and therefore have higher concentration of sodium in it are canned food, chips, ketchup, dried and smoked meat. 

Also a large number of finished products added sodium as an additive for strengthening of taste. 

Therefore be careful with the consumption of these finished canned foods - do not add extra salt.

Deficit of Sodium

Symptoms of deficiency (which is usually rare because of sodium daily entries through salt) are:

- Dizziness and nausea
- Muscle cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- Inability of concentration
- Headaches
- Agitation, irritability 
- In extreme cases there is loss of consciousness and coma
- Long-term deficiency of sodium leads to Addison's disease

Although sodium deficit is rare, there are certain conditions that accompany a lack of sodium. Such conditions include vomiting and diarrhea.

People who have high blood pressure and use diuretics to reduce fluid levels may have reduced concentrations of sodium in the body.

The Excess Intake of Sodium

Too large intake of sodium can result from consuming the already mentioned canned foods and foods rich in salt. 

Increased concentration of sodium in the blood leads to changes in osmotic balance, attracting water, which is why blood pressure rises; urine output is reduced, and edema appear on the feet due to fluid retention.

If person take food rich in salt in longer period, it will surely reported the occurrence of heart failure, varicose veins, edema in the legs, liver cirrhosis and renal failure.

Tip: Do not consume sea water, and never drink large amounts of sodium at once! This can be fatal for life because the human body has no mechanism to prevent excessive absorption of sodium in the intestine.