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What we need to know about Sodium?

What we need to know about Sodium?

Everyone knows salt, we use it every day. It is an important mineral support for human body but too much causes damage.

How much Sodium do we need?

Sodium chloride is a mineral, commonly known as salt.

The human body needs a small amount of sodium, but we should not have more than 6g of salt a day, that provides 2,4g of sodium for the body. Children should stop at 3g salt, that’s around half a teaspoon. Babies’ kidneys can’t cope with more than 1g salt daily. The average amount consumed is 9,5g (3,7g sodium) a day, which is much more than needed.

A deficiency of serum sodium concentration in blood is called hyponatremia and may be caused by increased fluid retention. This is a clinical condition, but sometimes excessive water intake may also lead to hyponatremia, which has symptoms like headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps, fatigue, disorientation, and fainting.

What food to eat?

Since it’s easy to overdose due to the food processing techniques, here are a few tips for cutting down on salt:

  • check food labels and choose foods with less salt
  • choose products with no added salt
  • eat fewer salty snacks, such as crisps and salted nuts
  • taste your food first and do not automatically add extra salt
  • when seasoning, use black pepper, fresh herbs and spices instead
  • make your own stock and gravy instead of using cubes or granules
  • make sauces with fresh ingredients such as ripe tomatoes and garlic
  • avoid products such as ketchup, mustard, soy sauce and pickles as they are high in salt

What helps to absorb Sodium?

As sodium is very soluble and nearly 100 percent is absorbed from the stomach in the human body, there’s no need to help absorption.

Where is Sodium in the body?

Sodium is everywhere in human body. 60 percent of it is in the fluid around cells, 10 percent is inside the cells and 30 percent can be found in bones. Sodium is an electrolyte that means it’s effective for moving water. Where sodium goes, water goes there too. By eating much salt (also sodium), your body may store more and more water, unnecessarily.

Is too much Sodium dangerous?

Taking higher doses of sodium (salt) my cause increased blood pressure, which can lead to heart problems, heart attack or stroke. It also has a bad effect on kidneys. If you have cardiovascular problems, kidney disease or are older than 50, the recommended dose in order not to worsen the problems is not more than 1,5g a day. Some people may be more sensitive to sodium and diagnosed with high blood pressure even when consuming a moderate amount of salt.

High doses of sodium may make the body pull the water out of cells to maintain the increased sodium level. Drinking enough water is essential to balance the sodium in the body. Besides enough water, the kidneys can excrete the excess sodium and restore the healthy system.

High intakes of salt or products that contain a high dose of it, may lead to gastric cancer, osteoporosis or kidney stones.

Does pregnancy increase the need for Sodium?

No. Breastfed babies get the right amount from the mother’s milk or from formula. Don’t add salt to baby food or use stock cubes or gravies, or any processed food high in salt. Giving less salt to babies gives them more chance of eating less of it as an adult.

Hidden sodium in processed foods:

Sodium is added to many processed foods to make them taste better, such as ready meals, meat products like bacon, some breakfast cereals, cheese, tinned vegetables, breads, savoury snacks. This means by just eating store-bought food you eat 75% of the sodium you need. By adding more salt to food you can easily overdose. The word "unsalted" on a product label means that there’s no added salt in it, but it still contains sodium naturally.

Foods that may contain more salt than is healthy:

  • anchovies
  • gravy granules
  • ham
  • olives
  • prawns
  • salami
  • salt fish
  • smoked meat and fish
  • yeast extract

You can find better or worse versions of these foods, by checking and comparing labels on them:

  • bread products such as crumpets, bagels and ciabatta
  • pasta sauces
  • crisps
  • pizza
  • ready meals
  • soup
  • sandwiches
  • sausages
  • breakfast cereals



Copyright: Zsófia Michelin-Corporatum Oy, Content pictures copyrigh: Shutterstock, Development: e-Com