Natural Mineral Sources: Sodium
This mineral element is among those which are both necessary and dangerous at the same time. Sodium plays a key role in maintaining the water balance in the body, and it also influences the functions and neuromuscular body’s electrical activity. It is impossible to live without it, but excessive amounts of sodium can cause great damage.
Chemically, it is one of the alkaline metals. The main task of sodium in the human body is water retention, which protects us against large liquid losses. It is in a balancing relationship with potassium in the body. Both take part in keeping the acid-base balance in order that the body does not over-acidify. Sodium carries nerve signals and is integral in muscle and heart activity.
Sodium is also essential in the creation of platelets and the hydrochloric acids in the stomach (without it, digestion would be impossible). The element also stimulates kidney activity and protects against the creation of kidney stones.
Today, a sodium deficit is a fairly rare occurrence. If it does occur, it can happen during exceptional sweating, working in heat (in a foundry, glassworks, or steelworks,) or after extremely demanding physical activity connected with stronger than normal sun. These states are connected with muscle cramps, heart palpitations, headaches and diarrhea. Higher requirements for salt also occur during abnormal nervous tension or stress.
Given that the most available source of sodium is table salt (NaCl), excess intake today is quite common. It is not a question of adding too much salt, although that does happen. The usual problem is that salt is contained in many foods, whether or not our tongues sense a salty flavor. Foods, with too much salt include smoked meats, canned foods and those with long shelf lives, like ketchups and mustards.
One should also be careful of drinking too much mineral water, which is often rich in sodium. Individuals especially sensitive to this element are pregnant women and young children. Thus, pregnant women should pay close attention to the composition of their menu-diet.
We should all be quite strict and not add salt to the diets of our children, or at least not until the age of 2 or 3. Nevertheless, it is necessary to remark that any addition of salt at that age is basically without merit. Salt, in a way, is addictive. If we don‘t give our offspring salty food, they will not require it. Adding too much salt results in higher blood pressure and stress on the kidneys.
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