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Sodium: How Much Is Too Much?

Submitted by Sharon Hopkins on December 14, 2010

Sodium Facts

One of the basic sodium facts is that sodium was first isolated via the process of electrolysis of caustic soda by Sir Humphrey Davy. Another one of the facts about sodium is that the symbol Na for sodium is derived from the Latin name “natrium” which is basically a common compound of sodium. Another one of the facts of sodium element is that it is observed as a white, soft and silvery colored element which can even be cut with a knife when kept at room temperature. One of the interesting facts about sodium acetate is that although it has a bright luster, this luster tends to disappear if it is exposed to air. Another one of the unusual facts about sodium and potassium is that usually the density of most alkali metals tends to increase when there is an increase in the atomic number.

However, in the case of sodium it tends to have a higher density when compared to even potassium. Facts about sodium the element also state that sodium if and when it is brought in contact with air, it tends to easily get oxidized and thus forms oxides. On the other hand, another fact about sodium bicarbonate is that if sodium is brought in contact with water then it tends to explode and forms sodium hydroxide which is also accompanied with the release of a large amount of heat.

Among the various interesting sodium facts, on fact is that sodium the element is known to be highly reactive.

This property of sodium makes the storage of pure sodium a very difficult task. Hence the best way to store sodium would be to immerse it in some liquid hydrocarbons like kerosene. Along with these facts about sodium as an element, there are also plenty of sodium nutrition facts which are beneficial to know when incorporating sodium in ones daily diet.

One of the facts about sodium chloride or sodium which is also simply known as salt is that it helps in maintaining the flow of water in and out of each and every cell in the body of an individual. Salt nutritional information also states that it is responsible for regulating the blood pressure and the volume of blood as well as the various nerve impulses and the contracting of the bodily muscles. Sodium and nutrition tend to be connected because if one consumes too much of sat or sodium then they tend to get dehydrated and may also result in fluctuations in ones blood pressure levels.

Sodium nutrition facts also state that people who sweat a lot such as sportspersons or those involved in manual labor require slightly higher amounts of sodium as compared to other people because when they sweat, along with the other bodily wastes, they also tend to excrete sodium or salt. Sodium is commonly found in many foods that may be consumed on a day to day basis such as crackers, sausages, sodas and so on. One of the sodium facts is that it is also used as a preservative agent. Sodium nutrition is also essential because those people who are found to be deficient in sodium are known to exhibit symptoms such as convulsions, dizziness, exhaustion and even cramps. The iodine that is present in salt is also important for maintenance of good health as a deficiency of iodine in ones diet may result in goiter which is medical condition caused by the enlargement of the thyroid gland in the individual. Some people also use salt as an exfoliating agent on account of its benefits for skin. In fact sea salt is known to make the skin smooth and also reduce skin inflammation if any. One of the sodium health facts is that sodium plays a very critical role in the operation of the enzymes in the body. Sodium is also an essential ion and a very important electrolyte that forms part of the extra cellular fluid.

Sodium is also known to be very important for maintaining the levels of fluids in the body of an individual and also for osmoregulaton. Some of the other commonly known health benefits of sodium are its impact on the nervous system, performance of the heart of the individual an also the absorption of glucose in the blood thereby maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Along with the various health benefits of sodium, one should also keep in mind that excessive consumption of sodium is also known to cause hypertension as well as stomach cancer. IN fact those individuals who are already suffering from edema and kidney problems should strictly avoid or minimize the intake of sodium in their daily diet. Some of the symptoms that are associated with a deficiency of sodium include headaches, low blood pressure, lethargy, vomiting, muscular irritability, dizziness and so on. On the other hand an overdose of sodium may also result in swelling of the nerves in the brain, high blood pressure, cerebral edema and even coma in some extreme cases. Hence sodium facts for kids especially pertaining to an increase in the consumption of salt via junk food should be kept in mind and the intake of such food should be closely monitored. Sodium is also known to be present in low amounts in baking soda, leafy vegetables, carrots, turnips, cabbage, egg yolks and other such foods that are considered to be the natural sources of sodium. Another important sodium fact is that sodium plays a very important and crucial role in preventing heat prostration or sun stroke. This is achieved on account of the ability of sodium to replace the loss of certain essential electrolytes. The consumption of sodium is also required for keeping the brain sharp as sodium is known to improve the overall functioning of the brain.

One of the facts about sodium is that it also known to have anti-aging properties and helps in keeping the skin healthy and youthful. This is why sodium is also used in several anti- aging creams as well.

What is sodium nutrition?

Sodium can be described as a mineral that plays a vital role in the proper functioning of the human body. Proper sodium nutrition can help in the regulation of blood pressure, building strong bones, making the required hormones, transmitting nerve impulses correctly and regularizing the heartbeat. Common salt is very high in this mineral. Other sources of food that are rich in sodium include smoked meats, condiments, olives, MSG, pickles and pickled vegetables, poultry, eggs, fish, baking soda, meats and other types of seasoning. Sodium nutrition is also important for maintaining muscle function, electrolyte balance and blood volumes.

Benefits of sodium

Apart from the various essential body functions that sodium can help improve, there are several health benefits of sodium nutrition too. Given below are some of the most common sodium nutrition benefits:

• Keeping the minerals in the body as well as calcium soluble in the blood
• Stimulating the adrenal glands
• Helping in the treatment of certain conditions, which include fever, dehydration, leg cramps and diarrhea
• Regulating the fluids and acid base balance within the body

Low sodium nutrition

The deficiency of sodium nutrition in the body could lead to several problems such as low blood pressure, excessive perspiration and subsequently dehydration. Sodium deficiency is usually accompanied by symptoms like fatigue, weakness, nausea and severe muscle cramps. Therefore, people who suffer from low sodium nutrition are usually asked to increase their intake of salt, in the form of a tablet. In some cases, especially, if excessive dehydration or sweating is experienced, a doctor may also suggest increasing the amount of table salt that is used in food. Fortunately, it is rare to find sodium deficiency is people. 

Sodium nutrition facts

It may be odd to know that in spite of all the health benefits that have been associated with sodium nutrition, a majority of the elderly people are asked to limit their intake of salt or other foods that are high in sodium. This is because the daily recommended dose of sodium is 1,000 milligrams (mg) for every 1000 calories consumed in a day. The total sodium limit for the day should never exceed 3,300 mg in adults. However, different people may have different sodium intake requirements, based on their medical conditions. Unfortunately, the problem is that Americans tend to eat way too much sodium than is recommended. Most people in today’s world tend to lead hectic lives, due to which, eating fast foods, junk foods and processed foods is common. These foods are all extremely high in sodium, because of the meat, salt, seasonings and condiments they contain. The excessive consumption of sodium could also lead to serious health problems, such as hypertension, water retention and so on.

Therefore, neither high sodium levels, nor low sodium levels are good for the health. It is important to get adequate information on sodium nutrition facts, in order to consume the right amounts of the mineral. It is important to check the labels of foods, to known the amount of sodium they contain. People who suffer from blood pressure or heart related problems should check with a doctor, to find out how much sodium they should consume daily.

Sodium, an important aspect of sodium chloride, is a mineral used for regulating the blood pressure. The most common natural source of sodium is table salt, apart from other good sources, such as, seasonings, meat, baking soda, fish, eggs, poultry, pickled foods, monosodium glutamate (MSG), olive, condiments and smoked meat. Sodium is essential for muscle and nerve functioning, maintenance of blood volume and acid-base balance and nerve impulse transmission. 40% of salt is sodium. A tablespoon of salt has 2000 milligrams of sodium. Increased dietary sodium raises the risk of water retention and blood pressure, thereby, causing renal problems, cardiac arrest and stroke.

It is also essential in maintaining the electrolyte balance. Sodium on contact with water results in sodium hydroxide fumes. They irritate the eyes, throat, skin and nose, resulting in cough and sneezing. Severity in fume causes burn, itching and damage. Eye contact results in irreversible damage. Processed foods contain increased sodium or its compounds, in the natural or synthetic forms. The AHA (American Heart Association) recommends less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, which is equivalent to a teaspoon of salt. A teaspoon of baking soda contains 1 gram of sodium and half a teaspoon of salt has 1.5 grams of sodium.

Low sodium diet is recommended for people suffering from renal problems, hypertension and congestive heart failure. Over the counter drugs, like antacids, contain sodium and care has to be taken. Spices contain some amount of sodium. Dietary sodium can be restricted by reducing the intake of processed foods, including fresh and frozen foods, unsalted broths, skimmed milk, home-made foods and so on. Salted nuts, beans, lentils and peas are better to be avoided. Skimmed dairy products are encouraged. Try avoiding salt on table. About, 77% of sodium comes from eating processed foods. Excessive sodium in foods causes kidney and heart problems, as a result of change in pressure.

The kidneys eliminate the excessive dietary sodium, through urine. If the kidneys fail to regulate the same, the sodium gets accumulated in the blood. Sodium in blood results in water retention, resulting in increased blood volume. This, in turn, puts pressure on the heart, thereby increasing the amount of blood flow through the vessels. This increases the arterial pressure. Conditions, such as cirrhosis, congestive heart failure and renal disorders result in imbalance in sodium regulation. Individuals, sensitive to sodium hold more, causing water retention. This invariably increases the blood pressure.

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