February 5, 2018
Sodium: a metal mineral found abundantly in some foods and the earth as a white metal/salt.
It is necessary for maintaining normal blood volumes and pressure. Cells in our body utilizes sodium in conjunction with chloride and potassium to set up an electrochemical gradient across the cells membrane. This is critical in the function of nerve signals and muscular activity.
Our body uses the kidneys to increase sodium concentrations to raise blood volume and the reverse
Sodium, like potassium, has an extra electron in the outer most atomic ring making it a perfect donor that allows it to give away the electron easily forming a positive ion that is used by the body readily in reactions.
We most commonly derive sodium in the form of sodium chloride or salt. The powdery white substance that is ubiquitous in our kitchens.
From a medical perspective, sodium is almost never a dietary deficiency or insufficiency concern because of the change in the American diet over the last 30 years. However, certain diseases of the kidneys, adrenal and pituitary gland can lower sodium levels. Persistent vomiting, diarrhea or excessive sweating with endurance athletes can cause a low sodium level. Low sodium levels will cause the following symptoms: fatigue, cramping, nausea, vomiting, fainting and mental disorientation. Severe sodium depletion will cause seizures, brain swelling and ultimately death.
Drugs that can cause low blood sodium include kidney diuretics, certain antidepressants and NSAID's like ibuprofen or naprosyn.
The truth is that the bigger concern is too much sodium. We consume large quantities of sodium through our processed food appetite. Chips, crackers, soups and fast food all pack a monstrous punch in terms of sodium content. Too much sodium is associated with high blood pressure, osteoporosis, stomach cancer and kidney stones.
If we consume a whole foods non processed diet and do not add significant amounts of table salt to our food, we are at very low risk for any of these issues.
Aim for avoiding processed foods and canned soups as much as possible. Know the symptoms of low sodium if your child has kidney disease, heart disease