Sodium Intake

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Sodium is a mineral that is present only in small quantities in most natural foods, but salt is added, often in large amounts, in food processing and by cooks to enhance flavor. Sodium is the predominant ion in extra cellular fluid. Sodium (Na) is the predominant cation in extra cellular fluid and its concentration is under tight homeostatic control. Excess dietary sodium is excreted in the urine. The kidney very efficiently reabsorbs the mineral when intakes are low or losses are excessive. Sodium consort with potassium, the chief cation of intracellular fluid, to maintain proper body water distribution and blood pressure. Sodium also is important in maintaining the proper acid-base balance and in the transmission of nerve impulses. It is a n essential mineral found in the bones and the fluids surrounding cells. It generally works with potassium. Sodium is a constituent of body secretions like saliva and enzymes. Since it is lost when the body sweats, supplements are needed during hard labor on hot days. Sodium may be beneficial for the treatment of diarrhea, leg cramps, dehydration, and fever. Sodium is vital component of nerves as it stimulates muscle contraction. Sodium also helps to keep calcium and other minerals soluble in the blood, as well as stimulating the adrenal glands. High sodium levels can cause high blood pressure. Sodium aids in preventing heat prostration or sunstroke Sodium functions with chloride and bicarbonate to maintain a balance of positive and negative ions (electrically charged particles) in our body fluids and tissues. The body receives sodium primarily in the form of table salt (sodium chloride). Sodium, the principal extra cellular ion, has the property of holding water in body tissues. The appropriateness of current recommendations for the general healthy population to reduce sodium intake has been a matter of debate in the scientific community. Public health scientists generally support the population-wide approach, while many clinically- or laboratory-oriented scientists are unconvinced that the population approach has sufficient benefit to offset the potential burden–to either consumers or industry– associated with sodium reduction. In addition, although sodium reduction to the levels recommended is presumed to be safe for healthy adults, the debate about this issue has been fueled by assertions that sodium reduction might have adverse effects on health.

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