How many of us really know about the importance of sodium? Do we know what role it plays in maintaining our health? Sodium is an important mineral that is commonly found in table salt, which is 40% sodium. Sodium is different from other minerals as it has a distinct and appealing taste. As a nutrient, sodium is needed in the body for regulation of fluids and blood pressure. In addition, it also assists in the smooth functioning of muscles and nerves. It is responsible for muscle contractions, nerve transmissions, maintaining pH balance and hydration.
However, sodium in excess of the prescribed limits may lead to high blood pressure, thus posing a risk to heart and kidneys.
Requirement Of Sodium:
Healthy adults require around 1500 mg of sodium each day and healthy children need 1000-1500 mg of sodium. Adults should not consume more than 2300 mg of sodium in a day which is roughly about 1teaspoon of salt. This is known as Tolerable Upper Intake level (UL).
Some individuals like endurance athletes require a higher amount of sodium because it is lost in the sweat.
|Adequate and Upper Limit of Daily Sodium Intake|
|Healthy…||Should aim for the Adequate Intake (AI) of…||Without going over the Upper Limit (UL) of..|
|Infants 0-6 months||120 mg/day||No data|
|Infants 7-12 months||370 mg/day||No data|
|Children 1-3 years||1000 mg/day||1500 mg/day|
|Children 4-8 years||1200 mg/day||1900 mg/day|
|Teens 9-13 years||1500 mg/day||2200 mg/day|
|Adults 14-50 years||1500 mg/day||2300 mg/day|
|Older adults 51-70 years||1300 mg/day|
|Older adults over 70 years||1200 mg/day|
Best Sources Of Sodium:
The most common dietary source of sodium is common salt, which contains nearly 40% sodium. Other sources include processed meat, such as bacon, sausage, ham and canned soups and vegetables. Fast foods have a high content of sodium.
Some of the added forms of sodium include sodium nitrite, monosodium glutamate, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), sodium saccharin and sodium benzoate. These are mostly found in soy sauce, onion salt, garlic salt etc.
[ Read: Sodium Rich Foods Include In Your Diet ]
Health Benefits Of Sodium:
Despite being present in small quantity in the natural foods, sodium has a pivotal role to play in enzyme operation, muscle contraction, osmo-regulation and fluid maintenance of the human body. It is a versatile element which regulates the blood in the human body. Being a predominant ion and electrolyte, it occurs in more than 80 forms. Dysfunctioning of sodium leads to serious impairment. Unlike other minerals, it is heat resistant. Sufficient dosage of sodium is vital during excessive perspiration, sunstroke and adrenal insufficiency. It does not pose life threatening risks because of excretion through urine.
Thus, it is beneficial in the following ways:
1. Remedy for Sunstroke:
The problem of sunstroke can be attributed to the loss of salt and water from the body. Due to this the body is unable to maintain the normal temperature as a result of continuous exposure to very high temperatures. Sodium plays an important role in preventing sunstroke by replacing the loss of essential electrolytes. Therefore it is recommended to drink fluids containing salt and sugar to provide relief against sunstroke.
2. Prevention of Muscle Cramps:
Muscle cramps are largely caused due to electrolyte imbalance & dehydration and are quite common in the summer months. Sodium is responsible for muscle contraction and hydration. Sodium rich juices and fluids help to restore the amount of electrolyte.
3. Elimination of Excess Carbon Dioxide:
Sodium helps in the removal of excess carbon dioxide accumulated in the body through excretion.
4. Smooth Brain Functioning:
Sodium is an important element in the development of brain and improvement of brain functions. The change of sodium levels in body affects the brain leading to lethargy, confusion, dizziness, etc.
5. Maintenance of Glucose Absorption:
Absorption of sodium in the body’s small intestine aids in the absorption of chlorides, amino acids, glucose and water. It also helps in the re-absorption of these nutrients after being filtered from the blood by the kidneys.
6. Healthy Condition of the Heart:
Sodium plays a vital role in maintenance and regulation of blood pressure of the human body. This helps in maintaining a healthy condition of the heart. A high content of sodium, however can lead to high blood pressure.
7. Regulation of Fluids:
Including sodium in diet helps in the regulation of fluids outside the cells. It is required to pump fluids into the cells as potassium carries the by-products out. It facilitates the movement of fluids through permeable membranes towards areas of higher salt. This is known as osmosis. Thus sodium and chlorine prevent water loss from the body.
8. Maintaining Balance of Ions:
Sodium together with sodium and bicarbonate, maintains a sound balance between the positively charged ions and the negatively charged ions. Thus, sodium plays a critical role in maintaining a charge differential across each cell membrane This enables the nerve cells to send messages and the muscle cells to contract.
9. Anti- Aging Property:
10. Benefits of Sodium Chloride:
Sodium chloride or common salt is beneficial for the teeth. It polishes the teeth, reduces odour and cleanses or deodorizes the teeth and mouth.
Skin Benefits Of Sodium:
Besides the various health benefits, sodium also plays a critical role in skincare. Sodium has anti-aging properties. Thus, it is an active ingredient in a range of skincare products. Sodium alone and in combination with other elements, offers a number of benefits for skin.
It is widely used in cleansers and moisturizers, Sodium is regarded as a mild wetting agent in products for sensitive skin.
12. Sodium Chloride:
Commonly known as table salt, it is used as a preservative, astringent and antiseptic in cosmetics and personal care products. It is an active ingredient in the formulation of oral hygiene products, shampoos, fragrances, cleansing, make up and bath products. It enhances a liquid’s viscosity.
13. Sodium Bicarbonate:
It is an inorganic alkaline salt which is also known as baking soda. It is commonly used as a skin smoothening agent, buffering agent and acid neutralizer in bath products and antiseptics.
14. Sodium Laureth Sulphate:
This salt is basically a lathering and cleansing agent and is commonly used in soaps, shampoos, toothpaste and bubble bath. SLS is a detergent which is useful in breaking up oil and grease by making the soap foamy. Due to its anti-bacterial and antimicrobial properties, it is effective in inhibiting the growth of harmful, disease-causing pathogens. Also, due to its mild nature it is used in baby care products.
In spite of being useful in breaking greasy substances, it often weakens the oily barrier on your skin that prevents the skin from drying out, thereby increasing the risk of eczema and dermatitis.
Hair Benefits Of Sodium:
Sodium benefits for hair are relatively fewer. Sodium in association with other constituents is widely used in shampoos and conditioners.
15. Sodium Chloride:
This natural salt forms a part of shampoos and conditioners to increase the viscosity (thickness) of the shampoo. It enables the shampoo to rinse out better and softens the water you use to wash your hair. However, excess of sodium chloride can strip the hair of its natural oil, making the scalp dry and itchy.
16. Sodium Bicarbonate:
Due to its cleansing properties, baking soda mixed with water, shampoo or conditioner, is used to clarify the hair. A baking soda hair wash cleans your hair effectively by removing excess products and impurities. It is suitable to be used as a dry shampoo to remove sebum, the oily substance secreted by the skin to keep skin and hair moisturized.
17. Sodium Laureth Sulphate:
This chemical has been derived from coconut oil and is considered safe and gentle on skin and hair. SLS is tough on dirt and impurities without causing any irritation or side effects. This is the reason why sodium is increasingly used in shampoos and conditioners.
So these were the many benefits of using sodium in your daily life. Of course there are side effects too, if you use it in excess, so make sure you follow the sodium diet chart and keep a tab on the usage.
- Low Sodium Diet – What Is It And What Are Its Effects On Health?
- Top 10 Sodium Rich Foods You Should Include In Your Diet
- Top 25 Calcium Rich Foods You Should Include In Your Diet