While most people get too much sodium in their diet, the body is capable of eliminating the excess to a degree.
Along with potassium and chloride, sodium can be termed an electrolyte. That is, they control the electrical charges between cells. These electrical charges are the reason we are able to see, eat, touch, smell and taste, they communicate with the nervous system.
About sixty percent of sodium found in the body is in the fluids surrounding the cells. It is a big part of the blood plasma. Ten percent is found in the cells itself, while the rest is stored in the bones.
Sodium helps maintain the flow of the blood to a certain level, it maintains blood pressure. Sodium also keeps the blood from clotting and along with potassium monitors the blood’s ph balance.
Sodium also works in the digestive system, it carries nutrients to the cells, and it contributes to the break down of foods into energy. The stomach lining is protected from acids by the presence of sodium.
Because most of the foods we eat have salt, there should be no need to add any more. There are high levels of sodium found in preserved or processed foods. Things like hot dogs, ham, bacon, tomato sauces, lunch meats and pretzels, potato chips, ketchup and canned soups all have a lot of salt. Others have lower amounts of sodium that are naturally found in the foods such as seafood, fish, carrots, artichokes, eggs, nuts, celery, beets, meat, cauliflower, chicken and milk.
Sodium Deficiency Symptoms
It is extremely rare to have sodium deficiency because most foods have some level of sodium but the body loses a lot of sodium through sweat or urine. If you do a lot of exercise in high temperatures, your body will lose a lot of sodium. You may suffer from sodium deficiency if you are throwing up a lot or have diarrhea. Pills prescribed to lower blood pressure and other diuretics may also reduce the levels of sodium in a body.
The symptoms of sodium deficiency with a loss of water are muscle cramps, weakness, dizziness, memory impairment, nausea and the inability to concentrate. If there is no relief, the circulatory system may shut down and the body may end up in shock.
Without sodium, water can pass into the cells and cause the cells to swell up resulting in water intoxication. These symptoms include apathy, muscle twitching, fatigue and anorexia.