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Sodium - Benefits, Deficiency Symptoms and Food Sources

What is Sodium?

Sodium is one mineral you don't need to worry about getting enough of. It is usually taken in the form of sodium chloride which is best known as a table salt. It is chemically very active and usually seen in combination with one or more elements. About half of the sodium found in the body is in the soft tissues.

Uses and Benefits of Sodium

It plays a major role in regulating water balance, acid-base balance, transferring nerve impulses, regulating muscle action and transporting nutrients to all the body's cells. Sodium is very crucial for maintaining the health of every cell in the human system. Sodium is required for the proper functioning of our nerves. It is also require for the contraction of our muscles. Finally sodium is necessary to maintain several kinds of equilibrium like fluid balance, electrolyte balance and pH (acid/alkaline) balance which are all of the utmost importance to the body.

Recommended Dosage of Sodium

Recommended doses of sodium vary, and can be easily obtained in dietary sources, but the common agreement among professionals seems to be between 1 to 3 grams daily which many adults easily exceed. Of course, before starting any form of supplementation you should consult your health care practitioner.

Deficiency Symptoms of Sodium

Deficiency of sodium is caused by excessive sweating, prolonged use of diuretics, or chronic diarrhea. Deficiency may lead to nausea, muscular weakness, heat exhaustion, and mental apathy. Rarely 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.

Rich Food Sources of Sodium

Potato chips and pretzels, hot dogs, ham and bacon, tomato sauces, ketchup, lunch meats and canned soups are good food sources of sodium. Lower levels of sodium also occur naturally in many foods including meat, chicken, eggs, nuts, seafood, fish, carrots, beets, artichokes, cauliflower, celery and even milk.

Cautions and side effects of Sodium

Excess sodium has been found to cause elevated blood pressure levels, especially in the 20% to 40% of the population with a family history of high blood pressure. Since most people consume too much sodium, they typically need more potassium as well.

     
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