|print the page||email the page|
- Why sodium is good for you
- Important sodium facts
- Groups at risk of sodium deficiency
- Symptoms of sodium deficiency
- Sodium and health
- Sodium in foods
- Sodium recommended daily intake (RDI)
- Sodium works best with
- Overdosage, toxicity and cautions for sodium
Sodium, along with potassium and chloride, is an electrolyte. An electrolyte is a mineral that dissolves in water and carries an electrical charge. Since the body is mostly made up of water, electrolytes are found everywhere in the body – inside the cells, in the spaces between cells, in the blood, in lymph glands and everywhere else. Sodium has a positive charge (as does potassium, while chloride has a negative charge). Because electrolytes have electrical charges, they can move easily back and forth through cell membranes. This is important because as they move into a cell, they carry other nutrients in with them and as they move out of it, they carry out waste products and excess water.
To keep body fluid levels in balance, your cells need to have a lot of potassium inside them and a lot of sodium in the fluids outside them. To keep the balance, sodium and potassium constantly move back and forth through the cell membranes.
Sodium easily combines with other elements and is necessary to make hydrochloric acid – the powerful digestive juice inside your stomach that breaks foods down to enable it to be digested and absorbed.
All three electrolytes – sodium, potassium and chloride – keep the amount of water in the body in balance, carry impulses along the nerves, help make muscles contract and relax and keep the body from becoming too acidic or alkaline. Electrolytes are also required to carry glucose (blood sugar) and other nutrients into the cells and to carry waste products and extra water out again. Electrolytes also regulate blood pressure and heartbeat.
- Sodium (together with potassium and chloride) work together to keep the amount of water in the cells and around them (ie your blood) at the right levels
- Anyone with a heart condition might also retain too much water because the heart is not pumping very well
- Too much sodium in the diet can attribute to high blood pressure
Generally speaking, most people will not be at a risk for sodium deficiency as there is too much salt in our diet already, but there is one group that could become slightly deficient:
- People that have been vomiting or have severe diarrhoea – will be eliminating most of the chloride in the body and will need to restore the electrolyte balance. A medical professional will usually prescribe an over-the-counter electrolyte remedy for to take. Fluid loss must be replaced by drinking a lot of water. It is vital for small children and babies to replace the water and electrolytes lost from vomiting and diarrhoea, as it can be a serious problem if they do not
People in these groups at risk of deficiency should talk to a medical professional about sodium supplements BEFORE taking them.
Sodium deficiency occurs when there is less than 500mg intake of sodium per day.
Sodium deficiency rarely occurs as salt (which is made up of sodium and chloride) is added to most processed foods, plus most natural foods contain some sodium, so most people get enough sodium in their diet.
Sodium deficiency usually only occurs with excessive vomiting, diarrhoea or heat exhaustion.
- Sodium and severe diarrhoea and/or vomiting - sodium, one of the electrolytes usually becomes deficient during severe diarrhoea, so supplementation is required with all the electrolytes (sodium, potassium and chloride)
People who wish to take an sodium supplement should talk to a medical professional BEFORE taking it.
|HIGH SODIUM FOODS||AMOUNT||SODIUM (mg)|
|Potato chips, salted||230g||1348|
|Macaroni and cheese, canned||1 cup||1343|
|Canned, chicken noodle soup||1 cup||1106|
|Corned beef hash||1 cup||1003|
|Fish sandwich with tartar sauce & cheese||1||939|
|Tomato juice, canned (salt added)||1 cup||877|
|Dill pickle||1 medium||833|
|Hot dog (beef)||1||458|
|LOW SODIUM FOODS||AMOUNT||SODIUM (mg)|
|Tomato juice, canned (no salt added)||1 cup||24.3|
|Potato chips, unsalted||230g||18.2|
|Fruit cocktail, canned||1 cup||14.9|
|Orange juice (frozen)||1 cup||2.5|
|Brown rice, cooked||1 cup||1.9|
|Almonds (unsalted)||1 cup||1.4|
|Popcorn, air-popped||1 cup||0.3|
|Pear, raw||1 medium||0.0|
|Olive oil||1 Tbsp||0.0|
|TOLERABLE UPPER LIMIT||lifestage||age||amounT|
|Toxic Levels||>18000mg (18g) a day|
The tolerable upper limits should only be taken for short periods and only under medical supervision.
* The tolerable upper limit for sodium for infants aged 0-12 months has not yet been determined due to a lack of data about the adverse effects in this age group. The only source of sodium intake should be from food (breast milk and/or baby formula).
Acute (>18gm) toxicity - diarrhoea, excessive salivation, excessive thirst, exhaustion, fluid retention, hyperactivity, seizures, tremors
- USDA National Nutrient Database - provides nutrient values for foods (accessed 5 January 2005)
- Osiecki, H. The Nutrient Bible. Bio-Concepts Publishing QLD, 2002
- Whitney EN, Cataldo DB, Rolfes SR. Understanding Normal and Clinical Nutrition, 6th Edition. Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2002