The chemical element sodium (in the periodic table has the atomic number 11), and the abbreviation “Na”, is essential for all organisms. Sodium is part of numerous minerals and can also be found at the bottom of the sea. It is one of the ten most common chemical elements on the earth’s surface.
The term sodium comes from the Arabic ” natrun “, which in turn is derived from the Egyptian word ” netjerj “. Humphrey Davy obtained pure sodium for the first time in 1807 by melted flow electrolysis from sodium hydroxide. Pure sodium is a silver metal, sensitive and soft.
Why do we need sodium?
Electrolytes also called salts, and minerals, have important functions in the body. Humans generally cover their sodium needs with table salt, which is added to food to season it and is available in many dishes.
Each kilogram of body weight has approximately 1.4 g of sodium in the blood. Half is embedded in the bones, the other half is in the tissue outside the body’s cells, where the sodium concentration is ten times higher than inside the cell. However, this difference in concentration must be maintained, otherwise, nutrients cannot be transported.
Sodium plays an important role in the excitability of cells, which affects the functioning of nerves and muscles, in addition, the heart could not function properly without salt.
Sodium controls enzymatic activity, which is the basis of numerous metabolic processes. It is also present in the body as electrically charged particles, the so-called ions. Ions maintain the electrical voltage in the body’s cells. This is necessary so that the transport of nutrients from one cell to another can work.
If the electrolyte or water balance is disturbed, the proportion of sodium ions in the blood also changes. The normal level of sodium in men and women is between 135 millimoles (mmol / l) and 145 millimoles (mmol / l) per liter.
Sodium has other benefits. The German-American research teams at the University of Regensburg, for example, discovered that salt accumulates in the area of wounds in mice and also in humans, which strengthened the immune system.
Salt stored in the skin increases resistance to pathogens as it activates phagocytes to destroy harmful pathogens.
Salt raises blood pressure
Even an integral muffin covers the daily sodium needs of an adult. Therefore, it is easy to explain that there is an excess of salt in an adult’s body.
According to the recommendations of the World Health Organization, the daily amount of 2,000 mg should not be exceeded.
According to studies, women consume 8.4 g per day, men even 10 g. Statistically speaking, two-thirds of the population exceed the recommended values.
The main reason for the high increase in consumption is due to prepared foods high in salt. Children and adolescents also have an increased risk of high blood pressure due to salt intake. Obese teenagers are, particularly at risk.
Excess sodium due to a high salt diet is one of the main reasons for high blood pressure. High blood pressure in turn increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Sodium is the potassium counterpart. If there is also potassium deficiency in addition to salt deficiency, this has considerable consequences for the heart muscle. Together, minerals affect both blood pressure and other bodily functions.
Those who eat a lot of salt excrete more and more potassium, which increases the risk of kidney failure. An excess of salt also stimulates the kidneys to excrete more calcium. In this way, table salt can even indirectly promote osteoporosis.
If the concentration of sodium in the blood is too low, it is called sodium deficiency. This deficiency can be determined by a blood test. If the deficiency is not resolved, it can be fatal.
Sodium levels that are too low often lead to diarrhea. The loss of fluid means that there are very few electrolytes in the body. This can be compensated with mineral-rich drinks.
Its deficiency can also lead to serious diseases such as liver cirrhosis.
If there is a sodium deficiency, the brain tries to compensate it by extracting water from the blood through the brain cells. This process has significant consequences because brain cells swell and brain pressure increases, there is a loss of brain performance very quickly, which can be, for example, an unsafe gait or dizziness.
Older and thin women are, particularly at risk. With them, a slight deficiency can make you seem as if you had drunk alcohol. Medications exacerbate symptoms.
As soon as the deposits are replenished, the patient will feel much better. Mental abandonments disappear, the ability to concentrate increases again.
Dehydrating drugs, antidepressants, hypotensive agents and rheumatism can also cause this disease.
People over 70 and all people who need to take medications regularly should monitor their sodium levels more frequently.
However, we often have too much sodium in our blood caused by an unhealthy diet. Excess sodium is called hypernatremia, which can become life-threatening.
Too high levels occur when we have lost a lot of water, but the loss of electrolytes was relatively low. This happens, for example, when you sweat a lot.
The same happens when we drink very little, have high blood sugar, or have a fever. However, a large amount of sodium in the blood is most often due to an incorrect diet, as is common in industrialized countries.
We usually eat too many salty products or just season our food too much. Most convenience foods in supermarkets are pre-salted, as are sausages and cheese.
We also like to add salt on the table instead of using herbs for seasoning, for example. Hidden salts are found in many foods, but must be shown on the package. For your own health, it is worth checking out.
What foods contain a lot of sodium?
French fries, pretzel sticks, prepared potato salads, frozen pizza, prepared pasta dishes, salmon rolls, smoked ham, and instant potato meatballs contain a particularly large amount of salt.
What foods contain little sodium?
Fruits and vegetables are generally low in salt, as are nuts, seeds, and legumes. You can improve the taste of many dishes with sunflower seeds, spices, herbs, and onions without using additional salt. The fresher the food is prepared, the more control it will have over its salt content.