Salt is an essential ingredient of food, as it enhances its taste. All food substances substantially contain sodium but added salt is the major source of sodium in our diet. It is the essential ingredient in any balanced diet.
Function of Sodium
- Helps the body to keep the fluid in balance
- Also plays an important role in electrophysiological functions of the cells
- Plays a major role in normal nerve and muscle function
- Relieves muscle cramps
- Help in the balance of the electrolytes
- Maintain an acid-base balance of the body
- Prevents dizziness, nausea
Sources of Sodium
Cereals, pulses, vegetables, seafood are the major sources of sodium. Since the taste for salt is acquired, it’s consumption should be restricted from an early age. Canned foods, preserved foods like pickles, sun-dried foods, contain a high amount of sodium.
Health Problems Related To Excessive Salt (Sodium Chloride) Intake
There is a strong association between excessive salt intake and high blood pressure. The amount of salt intake is reflected in urinary sodium.
Drastic restrictions in dietary salt consumption decrease the risk of developing high blood pressure. Sodium intake needs to be balanced by potassium intake. Potassium-rich foods such as fresh vegetables, fruits, helps to decrease blood pressure.
Eating excessive salt raises the amount of sodium in your bloodstream and hampers the delicate balance, reducing the ability of your kidneys to remove the water. This causes higher blood pressure due to the extra fluid and extra strain on the delicate blood vessels leading to the kidneys.
Too much sodium can be harmful to people with kidney disease because your kidneys cannot eliminate excess sodium and fluid from your body. High blood pressure can cause more damage to unhealthy kidneys.
Besides, increasing blood pressure, excessive salt intake may also cause gastritis or gastric cancer, as it affects the stomach mucosa.
Higher sodium intake also causes calcium excretion which may result in bone loss.
How Much Sodium Should You Have In a Day?
Salt intake in our population generally exceeds the requirement. It’s estimated that our body only needs 186 mg of sodium per day to function properly.
The WHO suggests consuming 2,000 mg (2 grams) of sodium per day. Institute of Medicine suggested not more than 2,300 mg per day, and the American Heart Association advises a much lower intake of 1,500 mg (1.5 grams) per day for better heart health.
Extra salt is sometimes needed
1) Extra salt is given to people having low blood pressure.
2) In humid weather, extra salt is given when there are profound sweating and salt loss.
3) In diarrhoea, ORS solution is given. The sodium salt is a component of the ORS solution.