Sodium – Benefits, Deficiency Symptoms And Food Sources


Acid/Alkaline :: Alkaline-forming

What is Sodium?

Sodium is one mineral you don’t need to worry about getting enough of. Sodium is a mineral that is present only in small quantities in most natural foods, but salt is added, often in large amounts, in food processing and by cooks to enhance flavour. Sodium is the predominant ion in extracellular fluid. Sodium is an electrolyte that plays a crucial role in maintaining blood pressure . It is soft and malleable. It is normally found inside the body and outside it in combination with other elements.

Uses and Benefits of Sodium

  • Sodium functions with chloride and bicarbonate to maintain a balance of positive and negative ions (electrically charged particles) in our body fluids and tissues.
  • An essential body electrolyte. A principle cation (positively charged ion) for intra- (inter) cellular activities and homeostasis.
  • Sodium also helps to keep calcium and other minerals soluble in the blood, as well as stimulating the adrenal glands.
  • Plays a major role in the osmotic pressure of a cell, thus affecting water and nutritional utilization by cells.
  • Involved in muscular contraction.
  • Plays a role in carbohydrate and protein metabolism; plays a role in glucose catabolism (breakdown) and glycogen formation (glucose storage); plays a role in neuro- (electrical) transmission through the nervous system (affecting conductivity of a cell); and plays a role in normal heart rhythms.
  • Sodium is vital component of nerves as it stimulates muscle contraction.

Recommended Dosage of Sodium

The minimum Recommended Dosage Allowance of Sodium are :-

  • Adult – 500 mg.
  • Children – 400 mg.

Deficiency Symptoms of Sodium

Sodium deficiency symptoms include muscle weakness and muscle shrinkage, twitching, fatigue, poor concentration, memory loss, loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea, arthritis, nerve pain, digestive distress, poor adrenal function, and weight loss. These are usually a result of starvation or severe fasting, vomiting, dry skin, allergies, low blood pressure, constipation, perspiration or diarrhea. A severe deficiency of sodium chloride could cause dehydration and death.

Toxicity: A diet high in sodium is linked to hypertension (and restriction of sodium lowers blood pressure). Diets in the U.S. contain excessive amounts of sodium (as much as 15 times the recommended daily intake).

Rich Food Sources of Sodium

All fruits and vegetables, especially dark green leafy ones, carrots, celery, watermelon, strawberries, apples, huckle­berries, gooseberries, cauliflower, asparagus, salt (all types), cucumbers, beets, okra, pumpkin, string beans, kelp/dulse.

Toxic sources: Most processed foods, water supplies.

Note: Diuretic drugs are the chief offenders in throwing off excess sodium from the body. Excessive sweating can reduce sodium in the body to low levels. Also, low sodium may be indicative of reduced adrenal cortex function. Sodium has a strong affinity for Oxygen.

Useful References

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