Sodium is vital component of nerves as it stimulates muscle contraction. Sodium also helps to keep calcium and other minerals soluble in the blood, as well as stimulating the adrenal glands. High sodium levels can cause high blood pressure. Sodium aids in preventing heat prostration or sunstroke
Sodium functions with chloride and bicarbonate to maintain a balance of positive and negative ions (electrically charged particles) in our body fluids and tissues. The body receives sodium primarily in the form of table salt (sodium chloride). Sodium, the principal extra cellular ion, has the property of holding water in body tissues.
The appropriateness of current recommendations for the general healthy population to reduce sodium intake has been a matter of debate in the scientific community. Public health scientists generally support the population-wide approach, while many clinically- or laboratory-oriented scientists are unconvinced that the population approach has sufficient benefit to offset the potential burden–to either consumers or industry– associated with sodium reduction. In addition, although sodium reduction to the levels recommended is presumed to be safe for healthy adults, the debate about this issue has been fueled by assertions that sodium reduction might have adverse effects on health. These assertions about adverse effects appear unwarranted.
Sources of sodium
Sodium added to processed foods accounts for the majority of sodium (75 %) in the US diet. The remainder comes from discretionary salt (15 %) and the sodium that occurs naturally in foods (10%). A substantial portion of sodium in foods is hidden in the sense that it occurs in foods that are moderate in sodium content and that are not thought of as salty foods, e.g., processed grain and cereal products, but which are consumed regularly. Other contributors to high sodium intake are foods with high amounts of salt. High amounts of salt are found in table salt and soy sauce, followed by foods in brine such as pickles, olives and sauerkraut. Salty or smoked meats and fish, salted snack foods, bouillon cubes, bottled sauces, processed cheeses, and canned and instant soups also contain significant levels of sodium.
Benefits of sodium
Sodium is an electrolyte that plays a crucial role in maintaining blood pressure.
Along with potassium and chloride, it regulates fluids and acid-base balance in the body.
It is also involved in nerve transmission and muscle contraction, including the heartbeat.
Sodium may be beneficial for the treatment of diarrhea, leg cramps, dehydration, and fever.
Sodium functions with chloride and bicarbonate to maintain a balance of positive and negative ions (electrically charged particles) in our body fluids and tissues.
Sodium also helps to keep calcium and other minerals soluble in the blood, as well as stimulating the adrenal glands.
Deficiency symptoms of sodium
Sodium deficiency is a condition in which we fail to receive an adequate supply of sodium. The most frequently observed sodium deficiency occurs when excessive heat causes heavy perspiration, thus reducing body water and sodium to the extent that gross dehydration affects normal activity patterns.
Symptoms may include feelings of weakness, apathy, and nausea as well as cramps in the muscles of the extremities. Taking additional salt in tablet form is a preventive measure, and persons may use increased amounts of table salt on their food to supplant sodium lost during dehydration and sweating.
In rare cases, sodium deficiency can lead to shock due to decreased blood pressure.
Too little sodium in the diet disturbs the tissue-water and acid-base balance that is important to good nutritional status.
Symptoms of high intake
High sodium diets, common in modern society, may lead to water retention and hypertension.
However, sodium is generally nontoxic for healthy adult individuals because it is excreted readily in the urine. High salt intakes have been correlated with hypertension. Meta analyses suggest that a reduction in sodium intake of 2,300mg/day would lower systolic blood pressure by about 5-6 mm Hg and diastolic pressure by 1-2 mm Hg among hypertensives, who comprise a sizeable proportion of the US adult population.
The Estimated Minimum Requirement of Healthy Persons for sodium from the National Academy of Sciences ranges from 120 mg/day for infants to 500 mg/day for adults and children >10 years.
Recommendations for the maximum amount of sodium that can be incorporated into a healthy diet range from 2,400 to 3,000 mg/day or 6 to 7.5 grams of table salt/day. Individuals with hypertension should see their physician to determine if a sodium-restricted diet is appropriate for them.
As NaCl-minimum 5-10gm. The average intake is much above this, 8-10gm and even more, hence sodium deficiency is rare.