How many of us really know the importance of sodium (Na)? What role does this macro element play in maintaining our health? Salt contains 40 percent sodium, which, unlike other minerals, has a pronounced pleasant taste. The body needs Na as a substance that regulates water balance and blood pressure. In addition, it helps to ensure the normal functioning of muscles and nerves, is responsible for muscle contraction, transmission of nerve impulses, maintains pH balance and the amount of fluid. But excessive sodium intake can lead to hypertension (which creates additional risks for the heart and kidneys) and even cause stomach cancer.
Need for sodium
Every day, a healthy adult needs about 1500 mg of sodium. The daily rate for children is about 1000 mg. Nutritionists do not recommend consuming more than 6 g of a macroelement per day, which corresponds to about 1 tablespoon of salt.
However, there are categories of people whose body requires a little to increase the generally accepted daily intake of the substance. For example, athletes and people involved in heavy physical work. They then regularly lose large amounts of sodium. Also, the daily dose should be slightly increased when taking diuretics, with diarrhea and vomiting, after severe burns, and with Addison’s disease (adrenal gland disease).
The benefit for the person
In the human body, sodium has a key role. It participates in enzymatic processes and muscle contraction, plays the role of an osmotic regulator and a “controller” of water balance. Lack of this macrocell leads to serious disorders in the body.
Top useful properties:
- Means against sunstroke.
Long stay under the hot sun is always excessive sweating, which means that the body loses a lot of water and salt. As a result, maintaining a stable body temperature becomes impossible, which is fraught with sun or heat stroke. Sodium in salt water can prevent or alleviate the effects of sunstroke.
2. Prevention of muscle spasms.
One of the causes of muscle spasms is electrolyte imbalance and dehydration. And it is Na that is responsible for the hydration and proper muscle contraction. The easiest way to solve the problem of imbalance is to enter into the diet rich in sodium juices and liquids that contribute to the rapid recovery of the electrolyte.
3. Eliminates excess carbon dioxide.
Sodium derived from food will also help cleanse the body of excess carbon dioxide.
4. Help the brain.
Na is responsible for the functioning and proper development of the brain. Sodium imbalance causes dizziness, confusion and even lethargy.
5. Promotes absorption.
Sodium absorbed by the small intestine promotes the absorption of chlorides, amino acids, glucose and water. In addition, it helps the reabsorption of these nutrients in the kidneys.
6. Affects the heart.
This macro has an effect on blood pressure, which directly affects the condition of the heart. An excess provokes the development of signs of hypertension.
7. Regulates fluid level.
Sodium is able to regulate the amount of extracellular fluid. It facilitates the transfer of matter between cells and the transport of beneficial elements throughout the body. Like chlorine, it prevents excessive water loss.
8. Supports ion balance.
This mineral maintains a balance between positively and negatively charged ions in the body. This allows the body to transmit nerve impulses and cause muscle contraction.
9. Anti-aging nutrient.
Na is an indispensable component of many anti-aging cosmetics. Thanks to its ability to fight free radicals, it slows down the aging process, maintaining youth and elasticity of the epidermis. Included in moisturizers for sensitive skin.
10. For dental health.
Sodium chloride, or salt, – a tool that is very useful for teeth. It polishes the tooth enamel, eliminates the unpleasant smell (due to antibacterial properties), cleans the oral cavity.
Sodium chloride has found its use as an effective preservative and powerful antiseptic. This ingredient is included in shampoos, shower gels, and oral care products. Sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda, also has antiseptic properties. But besides, it is also a powerful acid neutralizer. Na soap and shampoo are also inherent in the form of sodium laureth sulfate, which has antimicrobial properties. However, its excess leads to drying of the skin, provokes the development of dermatitis, eczema.
Macro element in food
The most common food source of sodium is table salt. Other Na suppliers include processed meats, canned goods, vegetables, fish, and seafood.
The list of foods saturated with sodium also include:
- bread and rolls;
- Domestic bird;
- sandwiches, hot dogs, hamburgers;
- meat dishes;
- salty snacks;
- canned food.
NA in daily diet
Relatively inexpensive fast food from fast foods is the favorite food of busy people. But it should be borne in mind that most of the dishes on the menu contain a fairly high amount of sodium. For example, a fast food fish sandwich is about 882 milligrams of Na, a cheese and ham sandwich is more than 1500 mg, a salty chicken dish is more than 2000 mg, and in a bun with apples there is almost half a gram of this macro element. Or take, for example, a sandwich with cheese and meat. In it, the bread will “pull” with 400 mg of sodium, a couple of slices of turkey – 650 mg, a piece of cheese – 310 mg, 1 leaf of lettuce – 2 mg, 1 teaspoon of mustard – 120 mg. Total – about one and a half grams of sodium.
The use of seasonings, sauces and other optional ingredients can turn an ordinary garnish into an extremely high-sodium dish. Most of this substance is contained in ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, dressing for salads. For example, only 1 tablespoon of soy sauce is almost half the daily intake of sodium (1029 mg). In a tablespoon of ketchup lies 150 mg of the macro element, which is almost 10 percent of the minimum daily requirement.
In addition to the high content of fat and sugar, some bakery products contain a significant amount of sodium. For example, in a regular donut, there are more than 10 percent of the daily rate of Na. In a slice of some types of bread – from 120 to 210 mg of mineral. There is also a high sodium content in various types of cookies, in muffins, buns.
All canned foods contain a significant amount of salt, which does not allow products to deteriorate quickly. High sodium concentration is in pickled vegetables, canned beans, sauerkraut. A glass of canned corn, for example, contains almost 400 mg of Na. And this is despite the fact that in a fresh or frozen vegetable there is not more than 10 mg of a substance. Or another example – a tomato. In 1 medium-sized raw vegetable there is approximately 6 mg of sodium, in 100 grams of canned tomatoes without salt, 20 mg, and in a normal salted tomato spin, 220 mg of Na per 100 g of product.
Smoked meats are one of the most sodium-saturated food categories. Poultry meat, ham, salami and other types of sausages contain a high concentration of macronutrient, which is part of the seasonings, flavors and marinades.
Melted cheeses contain the substance disodium phosphate, which increases the sodium content several times. A significant concentration of the substance is in cheddar and parmesan. Only 30 grams of cheese of the named varieties is almost 400 mg of an element. But cream cheese, Swiss and mozzarella belong to products with low Na content.
Any salty snack (nuts, chips, crackers) can provide a dose of sodium, several times higher than the daily rate. Nutritionists advise not to get involved in products from this category, but choose salt-free products or low salt as snacks.
Example of menu from the products containing sodium
- egg and cheese sandwich – 760 mg of sodium;
- a glass of orange juice – 5 mg;
- a cup of coffee – 5 mg.
- 1 medium banana – 11 mg.
- vegetable soup and sandwich – 1450 mg;
- a cup of tea – 10 mg.
- spaghetti without salt with meat sauce – 380 mg;
- salad with dressing – 340 mg;
- a glass of water – 10 mg.
- a glass of milk – 100 mg;
- 2 chocolate biscuits – 70 mg.
Total: 3231 mg of sodium.
Eating too much sodium too often can cause health problems. In addition, receiving corticosteroids and people with kidney disease are at risk of Na-oversupply. Stress is also one of the factors contributing to the retention of a substance in the body (under normal conditions, the macro element is excreted in the urine).
Avoiding excessive consumption of Na will help reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular and nephrological diseases.
To do this, eat more fruits and vegetables. If it is canned or frozen foods, give preference to salt-free options. Among identical products, choose those with less Na (indicated on the label). To accustom yourself to low-salt food (with time, taste buds get used to unsalted foods).
Excess sodium can cause high blood pressure, swelling of nerve tissue and brain. If time does not remove the excess substance from the body, the poisoning can end with a coma. In addition, reducing the level of Na in the body will help you quickly and easily say goodbye to excess fat. Also, the presence of excess sodium in the body can cause a deficiency of potassium, magnesium and calcium.
Sodium deficiency is also dangerous for humans, as well as its surplus. First of all, the lack of this macro will affect the nervous system, then it can cause depletion of the body.
Possible signs of Na-deficiency:
- weight loss;
- low blood pressure;
Sodium content in foods
Product Name (100 g) Amount of Na (mg)
Soy Sauce 5500
White cheese 1600
Marinated olives 1550
Sea Kale 520
Rye bread 430
Green beans (string beans) 400
Marine Cancer 380
Chanterelles (mushrooms) 300
Chicken egg 134
Celery (root) 125
River Cancer 120
Rosehip (berries) 30
Cottage cheese 30