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why do we need sodium in our body

Despite the health risks of too much salt, the body cannot function without sodium. Sodium serves numerous life functions from the cellular level to nervous system control. Sodium is a mineral that occurs naturally in the environment. Both humans and animals require it. However, proper balance is essential in order to realize its benefits and avoid the health risks associated with over-consumption. Sodium is vital for proper body function even at the most basic level. Sodium along with chloride and potassium are responsible for maintaining the electrochemical gradient between the environment within the cells and the fluid around it called the membrane potential. Nervous system impulses and muscle contractions are controlled by the electrochemical activity that sodium makes possible, meaning that nervous impulses are controlled by electrical charges within these chemicals. A deficiency in sodium can lead to a serious health condition called hyponatremia. Symptoms include headache and nausea.


Left untreated, hyponatremia can cause seizures and coma. Sodium plays an essential role in maintaining blood volume. The concentration of dissolved particles in plasma controls blood volume. The body maintains specific concentrations in the blood and the surrounding tissues. When you eat salty foods, your body retains water to dilute the concentration of sodium in your bloodstream. Sodium is one of several chemicals responsible for the maintenance of this system. The chemistry of the body involves many complicated reactions. The relationship between sodium and calcium is no exception. If your diet is high in sodium, you risk calcium loss from your bones due to the chemistry between sodium and calcium. Like sodium, calcium is essential for life. The body will break down bone to free up calcium. Over time, this action might increase your risk of developing osteoporosis. Too much sodium also puts you at risk of other diseases, such as gastric cancer and heart disease.


While sodium is crucial, excessive intake can lead to serious health consequences. A diet high in sodium will increase blood volume to the point where it can affect blood pressure. Simply, the more fluids your body retains, the higher the blood volume. With more blood, the heart must work harder to pump blood, increasing the pressure within blood vessels. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that Americans consume more than twice the recommended 1,500 mg of sodium per day. Processed foods and restaurant food account for over three-quarters of salt intake in the average American diet.
Your body needs sodium to maintain blood pressure and for normal nerve and muscle function. Getting too much sodium might cause blood pressure problems that can lead to health problems. It's easy to get enough sodium from the foods you eat and, in fact, it's more likely that you're getting more sodium than you need. Sodium is an electrolyte, which means it has an electrical charge.


Your body needs electrolytes to control blood pressure and blood volume. Your kidneys remove excess fluid from your blood by osmosis, which is a process by which fluid is drawn across cell walls. A specific level of sodium, along with another dietary mineral called potassium, is necessary so that excess fluid is drawn out of the bloodstream -- through the blood vessel walls and into collecting ducts in the kidneys. The extra fluid is removed as urine. Sodium is essential for electrical impulses to travel along nerves and for muscle function. It's part of the sodium-potassium pump found in the membranes of cells. Sodium is pumped out of the cells, and potassium is pumped into the cells, creating an electrical charge that leads to the transmission of impulses along nerves. The sodium-potassium pump is also necessary for muscles to contract. You don't need a lot of sodium to perform these functions, and getting too much might put the electrolytes out of balance.


The adequate intake for sodium is set at 1,500 milligrams per day for adults up to 50 years of age; 1,300 milligrams for adults from ages 51 to 70; and 1,200 milligrams per day after that. Sodium is found naturally in most of the foods you eat, at least in small amounts, with much larger amounts in soy sauce and processed foods. Processed foods are high in sodium if they contain salt for flavoring or sodium benzoate or sodium phosphate as preservatives. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, getting too much sodium might cause elevated blood pressure in some people, and it might cause fluids to build up in the tissues of people with congestive heart failure, cirrhosis of the liver or kidney disease. High blood pressure can put a strain on your kidneys, arteries, heart and brain. The UMMC suggests healthy adults should limit intake to 2,300 milligrams per day, and people with high blood pressure should stay below 1,500 milligrams per day.

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why do you need sodium in your diet
why do we need sodium in the body
why do we need sodium in our diets
why do we need sodium in our diet
why do we need sodium in the body
why do we need sodium in our diets
why do we need sodium in our diet