Sodium FAQ

Following are some common questions about Sodium in Human body:
  1. Why is Sodium important for our body?
  2. What are the sources of sodium?
  3. What is the healthy amount of sodium intake?
  4. How much salt is good for your health?
  5. Who are at high risk of suffering from sodium disorders?
  6. What are the health hazards associated with excess sodium?
  7. What happens when you are deficient in sodium?
  8. How will you know if you have excess sodium in body?
  9. How will you know if you are deficient in sodium?
  10. What are the factors leading to Hypernatremia?
  11. What are the factors leading to Hyponatremia?
  12. How to treat Hypernatremia?
  13. What are the treatment options for Hyponatremia?
  14. Do athletes need to take extra precaution to maintain healthy sodium balance in body?
  15. Is testing for sodium disorders too costly?
  16. How is sodium related to potassium?
  17. What is the ideal sodium to potassium ratio?
  18. Does sea salt have less sodium content?
  1. Why is Sodium important for our body?

    Sodium plays the following essential roles in body:

    • Regulates blood pressure: Sodium is capable of retaining the needed amount of water in body and thus gives blood the fluidity. However, excess sodium leads to blood pressure.

    • Cells within muscles require electrical currents for contraction. Neurons require the same for connecting with other neurons. Sodium ions contribute in providing required electrical currents in body.
    • Sodium also regulates osmotic pressure in body

  2. What are the sources of sodium?

    The following are the common sources of sodium:

    • Sodium Chloride or table salt is the most used source of sodium
    • Milk also contains a considerable amount of healthy sodium
    • Celery (ajavaayan) in medium amount
    • Beetroot is the most healthy form of sodium with number of benefits
    • Fresh fruits and vegetables provide tiny amount of sodium
    • Nuts without salt also contain small amount of sodium
    • Soy sauce and onion salt contain sodium in the form of baking soda, Monosodium glutamate
    • Chicken soup is also a good source of sodium
    • Packaged food contains the greatest amount of sodium

  3. What is the healthy amount of sodium intake?

    • Pregnant and Breastfeeding women - 1500 milligrams
    • Newly born infants (upto 6 months) - NO
    • Infants (7 months and above) - 120 milligrams
    • Toddlers - 1000 milligrams
    • Children between 4 - 9 years of age - 1200 milligrams
    • Children between 10 - 13 years of age - 1500 milligrams
    • Teenagers - 1500 milligrams or slightly more
    • Adults upto 50 years - 1500 - 2300 milligrams
    • Adults between 50 to 70 years - 1300 milligrams
    • Adults above 70 years - 1200 milligrams or less

  4. How much salt is good for your health?

    Salt is sodium chloride and contains 40 percent sodium and the remaining chlorine. There is no fixed amount of salt intake as the body looses enough of salt while sweating and urinating. However, the above mentioned table gives you a rough idea about the healthy sodium content you must have. To get the exact amount of salt, multiply the amount of sodium with 2.5 to get salt content.

  5. Who are at high risk of suffering from sodium disorders?

    Patients who are already suffering from the following diseases remain more susceptible to sodium disorders:

    • Thyroid problems; especially hypothyroidism
    • Addison's disease
    • Dehydration problems
    • Cystic Fibrosis
    • Renal disorders

  6. What are the health hazards associated with excess sodium?

    Sodium in excess is medically termed as Hypernatremia. This condition can lead to serious disorders in body. Topping the list are:

    Cardiac problems: Excess of sodium requires the body to hold back more water to dissolve extra sodium. This results in more blood and water in body. Additional volume of blood and fluid requires human heart to perform more than usual and sets extra pressure on blood vessels. This is known as high blood pressure. Prolonged escalated levels of blood pressure make people susceptible to strokes, heart attacks and death.

    Kidney troubles: Excess salt can also damage your kidneys. Some patients have severe renal issues even when they do not show any form of cardiac or blood pressure elevations.

    Deadly cancer: Sodium in elevated levels can even lead to stomach ulcers and cancer. So beware and keep a check on your daily sodium intake.

    Osteoporosis: Too much sodium; especially, table salt may lead to frequent urination and thus loss of calcium. As the body looses calcium that is vital for bone health, your bones become weak and fragile. If no proper treatment or precautions are adopted, individuals become very susceptible to osteoporosis. You may learn about Osteoporosis here.

  7. What happens when you are deficient in sodium?

    Sodium deficiency or Hyponatremia is a rare condition to occur. However, if you are suffering from this condition, early diagnosis and treatment is important to prevent this disease from turning fatal.

    Hyponatremia can be brought about by a number of reasons leading to excess water content in body. Thereby, the cells swell up and take up an abnormal shape. This condition can lead to a number of other health disorders; most of which are fatal.

    A person who suffers from excessive sweating becomes prone to suffer from hyponatremia.

  8. How will you know if you have excess sodium in body?

    The following are the common symptoms of Hypernatremia (excess sodium). If you are experiencing any of the following, visit a doctor and check you blood pressure levels.

    • Extreme fatigue and lethargy
    • Irritation and ill temperament
    • Dizziness just after you stand up from a seated position
    • Severe sweating
    • Edema - A condition of having excess fluid in and around the cells and tissues
    • Seizures and muscle cramps

  9. How will you know if you are deficient in sodium?

    The following are the common symptoms of Hyponatremia (low sodium) in body. If you are experiencing any of these; visit your doctor immediately:

    • Severe headache
    • Confusions and not being able to take decisions
    • Getting exhausted easily
    • Spasms and weak muscles
    • Frequent vomiting
    • Nausea
    • Irritation and restlessness

  10. What are the factors leading to Hypernatremia?

    Table salt misuse has been regarded as the common cause of hypernatremia; however, besides this, there are other conditions leading to Hypernatremia as mentioned below:

    • Intake of too much salt and salty food
    • Dehydration due to vomiting and diarrhea
    • Drinking too little water
    • Certain steroids and medicines used for lowering blood pressure levels
    • Breathing disorders leading to fast breathing rates

  11. What are the factors leading to Hyponatremia?

    The following are the common causes of Hyponatremia in body:

    • Liver, cardiac and kidney problems lead to excess accumulation of water in body and thus causes sodium levels to fall below healthy levels
    • Excess levels of ADH (antidiuretic hormone) leads to decreased urination and thus excess water in body. This again causes sodium to dilute more than usual and thus lowers the level.
    • Severe vomiting and diarrhea leads to dehydration and thus not enough water is present to dilute sodium that is taken in through diet.
    • Addison's disease tends to impair sodium balance by affecting hormonal cycle of adrenal glands

  12. How to treat Hypernatremia?

    • If you are experiencing above mentioned symptoms associated with Hypernatremia, you will need to visit a doctor immediately
    • Your doctor may quickly order a blood pressure level check to know how severe is your hypernatremia
    • Doctors usually use medication and dietary suggestions to help you reach normal sodium levels in body
    • Blood tests are also conducted to know further details

  13. What are the treatment options for Hyponatremia?

    • Diagnosing hyponatremia involves blood test and urine test
    • As hyponatremia is related to excess water, you may be suggested to reduce water intake by small volumes
    • Besides, an intravenous fluid that compensates for low sodium can also be adopted
    • Medications are usually prescribed to reduce severity of symptoms

  14. Do athletes need to take extra precaution to maintain healthy sodium balance in body?

    Yes. Sodium balance is very important to keep your body energized. As athletes loose a lot of water and sodium in the form of sweat, drinking water and eating salty food is vital.

  15. Is testing for sodium disorders too costly?

    NO. Sodium disorders can easily be detected through simple laboratory tests as mentioned above. Every clinic or diagnostic center offers sodium testing as mandatory service. You can get a detailed idea about the number of clinics along with their prices across various cities in India. (here)

  16. How is sodium related to potassium?

    Both sodium and potassium electrolytes are correlated and have opposite roles to play in the body. Sodium potassium balance is vital for healthy functioning of body. Excess of sodium can be controlled with potassium balance. Potassium causes removal of excess sodium through urination.

    However, potassium intake does not allow you to take sodium in excess. Excess potassium may lead to further disorders and therefore a balance is what we need to aim for.

  17. What is the ideal sodium to potassium ratio?

    The ideal sodium potassium ration needs to be between 1:2 or 1:3. Bananas serve as a good source of potassium and sodium.

  18. Does sea salt have less sodium content?

    Many people believe that sea salt has less sodium. However, this is not very true and therefore, taking in too much sodium through sea salt can prove detrimental equally.


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