What is sodium?

Sodium is one of the most abundant minerals in the human body. In an adult, there are 92 grams of sodium present in the body, distributed in the blood (40% of the total sodium in the body is in the extracellular fluid), in the bone tissue , in the connective tissue and in the cartilaginous tissue.

Sodium plays a variety of fundamental roles within the body. It is essential for fluid balance, proper regulation of the acid-base balance of the body, as well as an active transport mechanism. Sodium, along with potassium, is responsible for balancing nerve stimulation and muscle contraction. The body easily absorbs sodium into the intestine during digestion and it is emitted out primarily through the kidney under the control of the hormone aldosterone.

What is the function of sodium?

Sodium regulates the passage of fluids and nutrients into and out of cells and participates in the transmission of nerve impulses. Sodium in the bones represents a reserve for the body in cases that require adjustment of the PH level in the blood.

The kidneys naturally balance the amount of sodium stored in the body. If for any reason sodium cannot be eliminated by the kidneys, it starts to build up in the blood. This in turn makes the heart work with greater force, and can result in pressure in the arteries.

Which foods are rich in sodium?

The main source of dietary sodium is found in salt. Among other foods that are rich in sodium include cheeses, meat, sausages, eggs and other stored foods.  It is also naturally present in foods of animal origin (such as milk, both white and red meat and fish), while it is less abundant in those of plant origin.

What is the recommended daily requirement of sodium?

The recommended daily intake of sodium is between 0.6 and 3.5 grams per day.

  • 120-200mg for infants
  • 225-400mg for children under the ages of 10
  • 500 milligrams per day for adults and children 10 years old and older

What are the consequences of sodium deficiency?

Sodium deficiency can result in an imbalance of fluid and electrolytes in the body. Symptoms associated with the lack of sodium include nausea, vomiting and anorexia. Abnormal serum sodium levels can also affect the action of the muscles, especially of the heart. In severe cases, this can lead to coma or fatal consequences.

What are the consequences of excessive sodium intake?

Excessive sodium intake can lead to an increase in water retention and blood pressure levels, thus increasing the risk of hypertension and its complications. These complications involve the heart, arteries, and other organs, which in turn affect the health of the organism as a whole. Also, excessive doses of sodium can lead to symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, convulsions, fever, as well as impairment of the respiratory centers.

Why is a diet low in sodium important for an individual’s overall health?

By limiting abundant sodium intake, the risk of cardiovascular disease and complications of hypertension can be reduced. High blood pressure levels can damage many organs within the body, including the heart and arteries. Other organs that may suffer include the kidneys, eyes and brain.