The value of sodium for the human body is difficult to overestimate because the element controls many metabolic processes. Its presence can relieve many unpleasant symptoms; the macronutrient can even prolong youth. However, an excess of sodium is fraught with serious health problems. Therefore, it is extremely important to know its harm and benefits, as well as the symptoms of overdose and macronutrient deficiency.
Sodium has been known to humankind since ancient Egypt. True, then it was called sodium; Jens Berzelius gave the modern name for the element. The macronutrient is related to the number of alkali metals. In the Mendeleev system, it can be seen in the first group, the third period. It was first obtained in its pure form by Humphry Davy. This chemist, of English origin, in 1807, set up an experiment in which sodium was obtained.
Properties of sodium
Sodium has several physical and chemical properties:
- high level of thermal conductivity;
- white metal with a noticeable grayish tint;
- has good electrical conductivity;
- has high plasticity, you can cut with a regular knife;
- if you cut, then a clear shine will appear on the metal;
- when exposed to oxygen, the element quickly oxidizes, so it is stored only under a layer of kerosene;
- at room temperature, the process of crystallization of sodium occurs;
- becomes transparent and red if the pressure has been applied.
Functions of sodium in the human body
Sodium performs many functions without which the normal functioning of the human body would be impossible:
- Provokes the production of enzymes that ensure the digestion of food;
- contributes to the functioning of the excretory system in normal mode;
- is one of the components necessary for the production of the hormone vasopressin;
- Prevents dehydration, as sodium retains moisture in the tissues;
- delivers to cells the dose of glucose necessary to provide energy;
- controls the production of the hormone adrenaline;
- reduces the risk of acid-base imbalance;
- Acts as one of the components that ensure the production of hydrochloric acid by the walls of the stomach;
- keeps blood vessels in good shape;
- Provides the formation of natriuretic peptides, which rid the body of excess water, and are responsible for vasodilatation;
- helps glucose enter the cell;
- It is a necessary element that promotes the formation of tubules inside cell membranes.
Thanks to these tubules, cells can receive useful substances. In addition to these functions, sodium maintains osmotic pressure. Thanks to this, cells can receive nutrients and remove harmful ones. True, such an effect is possible only when paired with a sufficient amount of chlorine.
The combined action of these elements ensures the contraction of muscle tissue. In addition, they allow signals from the nervous system to move freely. In addition to chlorine, sodium actively interacts with potassium. Their tandem allows the body to control the balance of electrolytes at the cellular level.
Benefits of sodium for the body
A macronutrient in reasonable doses is necessary for the body to function properly. After all, it is assigned a key role in many processes.
The benefits of sodium for the body are as follows:
- Promotes the removal of carbon dioxide.
- Ensures proper brain function. The macronutrient contributes to the functioning of the brain. Reducing the daily dose of sodium can provoke an attack of dizziness, and in rare cases, lethargic seizures are possible. In addition, reducing sodium intake can lead to mental confusion.
- Helps improve the absorption of nutrients. Sodium helps the intestines absorb chlorides, glucose, and amino acids. Promotes the removal of excess through the excretory system.
- Slows down the aging process. The macronutrient can fight free radicals’ effects, making it indispensable in cosmetology. The anti-aging effect is expressed in maintaining skin turgor, significantly slowing the aging process.
- Maintains a safe ratio of positively and negatively charged ions. Sodium reduces the risk of imbalance. Maintaining a safe ratio of differently charged ions ensures the transmission of nerve impulses and promotes the functioning of muscles.
In addition to these properties, sodium is characterized by an antiseptic effect. Because of this, it is used to manufacture soap, shampoo, toothpaste, and mouthwash.
The harm of sodium
Using sodium on an ongoing basis in increased doses can harm the body and provoke several diseases. After all, the macronutrient negatively affects the metabolic processes in the body. Due to the abundance of sodium, fluids circulate less well. As a result, blood pressure rises, and the body stops removing fluid.
Excess fluid leads to edema, which complicates the work of internal organs; there is a load on the vessels. In addition, sodium promotes the leaching of calcium from the bones, which can lead to frequent fractures. The macronutrient also leads to a decrease in magnesium and potassium stores, which can cause heart problems.
Daily sodium intake
Every day, to ensure the proper functioning of the body, a person should consume about 1300-1500 mg of sodium. It is not allowed to use more than 2 g, as this can lead to an overdose. A similar amount of a macronutrient is found in 5-6 g of salt, equal to 1 teaspoon without a slide.
For children, the consumption rate varies depending on age:
- up to 1 year, the sodium content should not exceed 200-300 mg;
- from 1 to 3 years, the dosage can be increased to 500 mg;
- up to 7 years, 700 mg is allowed;
- in the age period from 7 to 11 years, 1000 mg will be considered the norm;
- up to 14 years, the dosage of sodium in the diet reaches 1100 mg;
- from 14 to 18 years old, you can use 200 mg more than in the previous age period – 1300 mg.
In some cases, the daily sodium intake may be increased:
- If the area of \u200b\u200bresidence is located in a state with a hot climate. For example, the countries of the African continent or South America.
- If the main activity is associated with constant physical activity. For example, athletes or laborers.
- If the work is carried out in conditions of high temperatures. For example, when serving in the metallurgical industry.
- With various poisonings that cause indigestion.
- When taking diuretics.
- In the presence of hyperhidrosis or diseases of the adrenal glands.
What foods contain sodium
The easiest way to restore the sodium in the body is to use salt. One teaspoon will be enough to make up for the daily dose. Usually, the main amount of nutrients enter the body through food.
The highest amount of sodium is found in the following foods:
- Semi-finished products, canned food, or finished products. For example, smoked sausage contains about 2180 mg, and salted herring about 4800 mg.
- In vegetables, fruits, and herbs. For example, green beans contain about 400 mg, and spinach contains 85 mg. Among fruits, bananas and apricots are highly concentrated- 54 and 31 mg.
- Seafood. Crayfish will enrich the body with sodium by 380 mg and flounder by 200 mg.
Lack and excess of sodium in the body
Currently, sodium deficiency is extremely rare. Usually, it is associated with work in conditions of elevated temperature conditions. In some cases, its occurrence can be provoked by various diseases characterized by febrile conditions. In this case, sodium is actively excreted from the body under the influence of heat.
The lack of sodium in the body can manifest itself for other reasons:
- conducting diets in which salt is limited or excluded from the diet;
- failures in the production of antidiuretic hormones;
- periodic bowel lavage through enemas;
- consumption of caffeinated drinks in an uncontrolled amount;
- diseases of an endocrine nature;
- cirrhosis of the liver;
- consumption of foods containing a large amount of potassium;
- injury, severe burns, or surgery.
In this case, the macroelement will accumulate in damaged areas, provoking more accelerated healing.
The main signs of a macronutrient deficiency include:
- the occurrence of dizziness, prolonged headaches;
- reflex muscle twitches;
- a feeling of strong thirst, drying of mucous membranes;
- the development of flatulence, the appearance of vomiting and nausea;
- with prolonged deficiency – muscular dystrophy;
- the occurrence of hypotension;
- hair loss;
- the skin acquires a bluish tint due to oxygen starvation, which provokes a lack of sodium;
- violation of the heart rhythm, its significant increase;
- weakness and drowsiness;
- impaired coordination of movements;
- weight loss;
- dry skin, the appearance of wrinkles and cracks;
All of these symptoms are explained quite simply. Due to a prolonged deficiency of a macronutrient, its content in the intercellular fluid is reduced. In turn, this provokes the accumulation of nitrogenous compounds. Their excess gradually poisons the body and can even lead to death.
Much more often than a macronutrient deficiency, an overdose is diagnosed. This is not surprising because many foods contain hidden sodium, so controlling its content is difficult.
The main reasons provoking the development of excess sodium include:
- excessive consumption of snack products (chips, crackers, nuts);
- low water intake;
- uncontrolled salt intake;
- regular intake of drugs that ensure the functioning of the kidneys (cortisone).
The following symptoms characterize sodium overdose:
- development of seizures;
- increase in pressure;
- the occurrence of shortness of breath;
- the appearance of edema;
- excitability of the nervous system;
- hyperemia of the skin;
- weight set.
In addition, some studies have proven a link between excess sodium and the formation of cataracts. In this case, the disease develops due to a chronic increase in intraocular pressure, which provokes an increase in the dose of the macroelement in the patient’s body. Excess sodium causes the accumulation of red blood cells, which leads to the risk of thrombosis. In addition, constant pressure drops can also be explained by sodium imbalance.