Sodium, otherwise known as salt, is a mineral that has been highlighted as a dangerous threat to our health. This is because many of us consume much more sodium than our bodies actually need which can lead to heart disease, strokes and high blood pressure.
However, it's important to remember that sodium is still an essential mineral, and one we need not just in order to function but in order to stay alive. Sodium helps maintain a proper balance of water inside the body, and is necessary to keep blood pressure and the overall volume of blood flow within normal ranges. Together with potassium, sodium helps maintain the blood's pH balance, as well as carrying important nutrients to the cells.
Sodium is present in all foods, some of it occurring naturally but some added in the preparation process as salt. As long as you're eating enough food to sustain yourself, there's no need to worry about consuming enough sodium. Indeed, it's how to reduce your sodium intake that's usually the issue.
There is currently no European Commission daily requirement allowance (RDA) for the mineral sodium. In the UK, the RDA for sodium us 1600mg for both men and women. In the United States, it is recommended that you consume no more than 2500mg per day.
As we consume more and more salt in our daily diet, sodium deficiency becomes increasingly rare. However, a deficiency can occur as a result of prolonged periods of diarrhea or vomiting. Dehydration, excessive sweating and illness can also cause sodium levels to drop to problematic levels.
Symptoms of sodium deficiency include nausea, drowsiness, vomiting, tiredness and muscle craps. In severe cases, where sodium levels drop dramatically, the individual is at risk of coma, and possibly even death.
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