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This mineral is found in almost all plants and animals, mainly as chloride. The most familiar source being the compound sodium chloride, commonly known as “table salt”.
Salt is about 40% sodium and 60% chloride. Besides the salt added to food, most people consume large quantities of “hidden” sodium, which is present in all prepared foods in the form of monosodium glutamine (MSG).
It is also in many medications; such as, drugs as antacids, painkillers, laxatives, and sleeping pills.
It is an important dietary mineral in the body. It helps to regulate water, to balance acids in the blood and urine, and to promote the absorption of nutrients across cell membranes. It is also plays a role in muscle contractions and proper functioning of the nervous system.
Very little salt is needed for the body to function properly. The body requires only about 220 milligrams of sodium a day; the amount in one-tenth of a teaspoon of salt.
SIGN OF DEFICIENCY:
Sodium deficiency can cause severe fluid loss. Sodium depletion symptoms include muscle weakness, cramps, nausea, and cardiac irregularities. Excessive sweating, severe burns, prolonged diarrhea and vomiting, and the over use of diuretics can deplete levels as well.
In most healthy people the kidneys filter excess sodium out of the bloodstream and excrete it in the urine. Some people, particularly those with hypertension, heart disorders, and kidney disease, do not readily excrete it from their bodies. Excess of this mineral is believed to contribute to the development of high blood pressure.
Some evidence suggests that a high sodium diet (virtually all foods contain it) can lead to strokes even when it does not increase blood pressure. This has been demonstrated in animal studies and some researchers think it applies to humans as well.