Sodium — villain or hero? Your body can’t function without this vital mineral!
Sure, you want to eat right and have a complete and balanced diet, but did you know you actually need some salt to stay healthy? According to the Mayo Clinic, sodium is essential in small amounts. Like many Americans, you may need to cut down on the amount of added salt, but first, know the complete sodium facts and why it’s good in moderation.
Sodium maintains fluid equilibrium. Salt is an electrolyte that regulates several physical processes within the human body. Salt takes an important role in regulating the water content and balance in your body. During exercise, your body loses water and electrolytes through sweat. In order for body fluids to remain at a healthy level, they must be replaced.
Nerve impulse transmission is assisted by sodium. The sodium ion helps transmit the electrical signals in the nervous system. In rare cases where the autonomic nervous system malfunctions and dysautonomia is the result, salt is actually a treatment for disease management.
Muscles contract and relax with help from sodium. Too little salt in your diet can lead to a harmful electrolyte imbalance. Cramps, dizziness and other neurological problems can result from the imbalance of salt and water in the body, putting you at risk for water intoxication or hyponatremia.
Sodium is good in moderation. Each person is different, but sodium is good for the body in moderation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 2,300 milligrams a day of sodium or less if you are older or have high blood pressure, diabetes or kidney disease. Make sure you speak with your doctor about your sensitivity to sodium and understand the all sodium facts, why it’s good in moderation and how much you actually need. Processed and prepared foods contain an abundance of sodium, so you may want to stay away from them and get your sodium from healthy dietary sources instead.