Sodium is an important mineral in our bodies because it plays a role in maintaining fluid balance.
It’s used to maintain fluid outside the cell walls because if fluid was able to freely enter the cells, they would eventually burst.
It’s also essential for muscle contraction and nerve transmission.
A deficiency of sodium is usually caused by sodium losses, such as severe vomiting, rather than from a lack of sodium intake.
More common in most people is an excess of processed sodium in the diet, which can lead to high blood pressure, weight gain, swollen joints and cellulite buildup.
Most human diets contain plenty of high sodium foods. The RDA for sodium is 1,500 milligrams per day, and the Daily Value is 2,400 mg.
Top 10 High Sodium Foods List
1) Table salt
1 teaspoon: 2300 milligrams (96% DV)
2) Bouillon cubes
1 cube: 1200 milligrams (50% DV)
3) Soy sauce
1 tablespoon: 1005 milligrams (42% DV)
1 slice: 194 milligrams (8% DV)
1 slice: 226 milligrams (9% DV)
6) Processed cheese
1 ounce: 390 milligrams (16% DV)
7) Beef jerky
1 ounce: 590milligrams (24% DV)
10 olives (green): 420 milligrams (17% DV)
1 large: 160 milligrams (6% DV)
1 slice: 320 milligrams (13% DV)
All of these sodium foods contain processed iodized table salt (sodium), which can have negative effects on your health.
Dangers of Excessive Sodium Intake
High blood pressure
Water follows sodium in the body. When you consume too much sodium, your body starts to hold onto excess water — this causes a chain reaction, as excess water leads to high blood volume, which then puts pressure on the veins and arteries. This pressure caused by the body holding onto too much water is high blood pressure, which is the primary cause of heart attacks and strokes. It’s also the leading cause of death for women in the U.S.
People with high sodium diets tend to urinate more often, leading to a loss of calcium from excessive urination. This calcium loss eventually leads to calcium depletion and decreased bone mass. As bone mass decreases, bones become brittle and weak, a condition called osteoporosis.
High blood pressure, caused by excess sodium consumption, can lead to damage of the small, delicate blood vessels in the kidneys. If the kidneys aren’t functioning properly, they cannot properly get rid of sodium, leading to an even more elevated blood pressure and increased kidney damage. Those with early kidney disease should follow a strict low sodium diet to prevent any further damage.
Health Benefits of Real Sodium and Healthy Sea Salt
Electrolytes and Athletic Performance
Endurance athletes tend to not just lose water during strenuous activities, but they also lose a significant number of electrolytes, with sodium being the most critical. Athletes can have hyponatremia (low sodium levels) if they don’t properly replace lost sodium during an event.
The symptoms of hyponatremia include confusion, vomiting, and may even lead to seizures and coma. Athletes should not drink only water, but instead use electrolyte replacement fluids on events lasting for longer than an hour or in very hot weather.
Without sodium, fluid will enter the cells causing them to burst. Adequate intakes of sodium are needed to maintain fluid balance inside and outside the cells. The best sources of sodium come from vegetables and sea salt.