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Get acquainted with your nutrients - Sodium
Get acquainted with your nutrients – Sodium
sodium in food:
Sodium is one of the most abundant minerals found on Earth and exists in the positive form (Na+) in food and in the body. Sodium is involved in the electrical processes in the body and along with chloride and potassium are called electrolytes and is vital for fluid balance and cellular homeostasis.
Sources of sodium in food
The amount of naturally occurring sodium in food is low and only about one-fourth of the sodium comes from the food we eat in a day. About half of our daily sodium in food comes from where it is added as salt for taste or preservation by manufacturers. For example, pickles/achaaris, snacks like chips, sauces, and namkeen (Indian savoury snacks) contain high amounts of sodium in food. Salt is usually added as a condiment to food in the kitchen or at the table while cooking or eating food. A lot of sodium we ingest comes from processed foods and snacks.
sodium in food: recommended allowance
The adequate intake of sodium in food is 1.5 grams a day for young adults and teenagers. Women in the pregnant and lactating stage also require 1.5 grams a day. People who sweat a lot like athletes and those who do hard labour need a little more, as sodium is an important component of sweat. The adequate intake decreases with age, 1.3 grams a day for people over 51 years and 1.2 grams a day over the age of 70 years. Sodium can be easily provided by food.
What is the role of sodium in the body?
sodium in food is easily absorbed from the digestive system. About 95 % of the sodium in food is absorbed. Sodium content in the body is mostly regulated through urinary loss. Aldosterone is the principal hormone which governs the amount of sodium in the urine.
- Sodium is the dominant positively charged electrolyte dissolved in the extracellular fluid including blood and is involved in several physiological processes in the body, including muscle and nerve function.
- It is involved in controlling blood pressure by altering fluid and electrolyte balance in the body.
- Sodium is also involved in regulating body water content. In conditions such as dehydration, body minimizes the amount of sodium in food, lost in urine to decrease the amount of urinary water loss.
The chance of sodium deficiency is low because sodium in food is a highly common observation. But it may happen in situations such as low sodium diet in combination with excessive sweating and/or chronic diarrhoea.
Excess sodium in food
Excessive sodium in food has been linked to raising in blood pressure (BP)/hypertension. Hypertension is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD), the leading cause of death. Recent pre-clinical and clinical data states that even in the absence of raised BP, excess dietary sodium can have a negative impact on organs such as blood vessels, heart, kidneys, and brain.
Labelling of food products about their content of sodium is mandatory in some countries. High sodium consumption (more than 2 grams/day, equivalent to 5 grams salt/day which is 1 tsp) and insufficient potassium intake (less than 3.5 grams/day) contribute to high blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.