Advantages & Disadvantages of Sodium for Nutrition

By Ajanta Sen

Salt is undoubtedly scrumptious, isn't it? Be it a party or in a movie hall, a delectable platter of cheesy nachos or salted snacks brings a smile on your face instantly.

Well, a limited amount of sodium is really good for your health but excess sodium intake may lead to severe health issues. Excess sodium comes from the myriad of processed foods that you eat which can result in a plethora of chronic diseases.

sodium benefits and risks

The sodium that you consume in your daily diet is in the form of sodium chloride (or salt). Sodium brings numerous advantages when it is taken in small amounts; however, large doses of sodium can be detrimental.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the recommended amount of sodium for everyone is 1500-2300 mg per day, but a majority of people consume more than this amount every day. Below is a list of advantages and disadvantages of sodium.

Advantages Of Sodium:

1. Boosts Brain Function
2. Keeps Your Blood Pressure In Check
3. Keeps The Acid-base Balance Under Control
4. Adjusts Fluid Levels
5. Soothes Muscle Cramps
6. Maintains The Ion Balance
7. Keeps Sunstroke At Bay
8. Skin Care

1. Boosts Brain Function

Sodium helps to keep your mind sharp. Since sodium helps to enhance your brain function, it is a very essential element for brain development. A lack of sodium may lead to lethargy and confusion.

2. Keeps Your Blood Pressure In Check

Sodium is said to play a crucial role in your system because it maintains your body's blood pressure. However, an excess of sodium may considerably increase your blood pressure levels and this can lead to severe health issues.

3. Keeps The Acid-base Balance Under Control

Sodium has the ability to control the reaction of your kidneys, amount of urine and the frequency of urination by changing the fractions of acid and base phosphates in your body.

4. Adjusts Fluid Levels

Sodium controls the fluid levels in your body. The balance between water and sodium is strongly connected. Sodium channels and pushes water into your cells and adjusts the quantity of extracellular fluid in your body.

5. Soothes Muscle Cramps

During the scorching months of summer, due to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, muscle cramps take place. Thus, apart from keeping your body hydrated you should also increase the intake of fluids and juices that are high in sodium in order to replenish the electrolytes in your body.

6. Maintains The Ion Balance

Sodium maintains the balance between positive and negative ions (bicarbonate and chlorides) in your body.

7. Keeps Sunstroke At Bay

When you are exposed to incessant high temperatures, it results in heat exhaustion. The temperature control system in your body fails. Due to heat exhaustion your body fails to retain the normal body temperature. This type of condition becomes even worse due to a deficit of water and salt from your body.

Therefore, sodium is a vital element which wards off heat exhaustion or sunstroke by restoring the electrolyte loss. Thus, at high temperatures, take loads of water and in addition you should also drink fluids that contain sugar and salt to prevent sunstroke.

Make a juice with raw mangoes and salt to get instant relief from sunstroke. It is very important to maintain a balance of your fluid and sodium levels in order to keep sunstroke at bay.

8. Skin Care

Sodium is used in numerous skin care products such as in anti-ageing lotions to keep your skin hydrated. It protects against free radicals which speed up the ageing process. Moreover, it aids in re-establishing a healthy and young-looking skin.

Disadvantages of Sodium:

1. High Blood Pressure
2. Fluid Retention
3. Disturbs Fluid Levels
4. Heart Disease & Kidney Diseases

1. High Blood Pressure

The role of your kidneys is to expel an excess amount of sodium from your system. However, when your salt intake is too much, it becomes impossible for your kidneys to get rid of the extra sodium. Due to the excess amount of sodium the volume of your blood increases.

Your heart needs to work harder to pump blood to different parts of your body. This puts additional pressure on the arteries which results in high blood pressure.

2. Fluid Retention

Water attracts sodium and when there is excess sodium in your body it leads to fluid retention. This can be very distressing as well as risky for your health in the long run. The symptoms of fluid retention are swelling in hands and ankles, feet, speedy weight gain, increase in abdominal size and considerable weight fluctuations.

Constant fluid retention can cause kidney disease, arthritis, heart failure and lung disease. The problem can aggravate if you consume an excess amount of salt with any of the above health conditions. Your doctor will suggest you to restrict the salt intake because cutting down the sodium intake is one of the best ways to ward off fluid retention.

3. Disturbs Fluid Levels

Excess of sodium intake can disturb the balance of your body's fluid levels. Sometimes, it also dehydrates your body while retaining the sodium.

4. Heart Disease & Kidney Diseases

The risk of getting kidney and heart diseases also increases because of excess sodium.

Similarly, a low-sodium diet can increase the risk of high cholesterol and insulin resistance. Less sodium intake in patients having type 2 diabetes, may increase the risk of mortality.

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