Sodium is required by the body, but most people have a far too high intake of sodium (salt) in their diet.
Sodium is required for
Sodium is an electrolyte in the body and is required in the manufacture of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, which protects the body from any infections that may be present in food.
Deficiency of sodium
A deficiency is rare, but can easily happen with diarrhea, vomiting or excessive sweating, and a shortage may lead to nausea, dizziness, poor concentration and muscle weakness.
The dosage underneath is the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA), but be aware that this dosage is the minimum that you require per day, to ward off serious deficiency of this particular nutrient. In the therapeutic use of this nutrient, the dosage is usually increased considerably, but the toxicity level must be kept in mind.
- An amount of about 2,400 milligrams is needed daily.
Toxicity and symptoms of high intake
Excessive sodium may cause high blood pressure, which may lead to a host of health problems. Excessive long-term use of sodium may also cause a loss of calcium from your body.
Best used with
It is interesting to note that current thinking is advising people to up their intake of potassium to balance the effects of a higher than normal sodium intake, or to counteract high blood pressure. Additional magnesium and calcium is also advised. A person should consume about half the amount of sodium in relation to potassium and is best taken with vitamin D.
When more may be required
People consuming large amounts of sodium, should look at ingesting extra potassium to balance it. If you are suffering from vomiting, diarrhea or extreme sweating you may require more sodium. People taking lithium for the control of bipolar depression should not be on a sodium restricted diet - but please discuss this with your medical practitioner.
Other interesting points
Although a low sodium diet should be strived for, it is wise to start reading food labels and to see the sodium level in these foods. Preserved and processed foods make excessive use of salt in the preparation of the foods, and although you might not be adding extra salt to these products, they are already loaded with sodium.
Sodium food sources
Sodium is found in table salt, anchovies, bacon etc.