Sodium - Benefits, Deficiency Symptoms And Food Sources
Sodium is one mineral you don't need to worry about getting enough of . Sodium is a silver-white, highly reactive, alkaline, metallic element. Sodium is an electrolyte that plays a crucial role in maintaining blood pressure . It is soft and malleable. It is normally found inside the body and outside it in combination with other elements.
Vitamin A and carotene can be obtained from either animal or vegetable sources. The animal form is divided between retinol and dehydroretinol whereas the vegetable carotene can be split into four very potent groups - alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, gamma-carotene and crypto-carotene. With enough beta-carotene available in the body, the body can manufacture its own vitamin A.
Benefits and functions of Sodium
Sodium is concerned in the maintenance of: (i) fluid balance; (ii) muscle irritability; (iii) acid base balance; and (iv) osmotic pressure.
Much of the metabolic energy produced by the body is used for pumping sodium out of the cells and potassium into them, in a ratio of three sodium ions out for every two potassium ions in. This energy is necessary because the process is against the electrochemical gradients of these ions. A specific enzyme in the cell membrane, the sodium- and potassium-dependent adenosine triphosphatase (sodium-potassium ATPase), is responsible for the active transport of these cations.
It also plays a major role in the osmotic pressure of a cell, thus affecting water and nutritional utilization by cells.
Recommended dosage of Sodium
The Recommended Dosage for Sodium are :-
Deficiency symptoms of Sodium
Hyponatremia is usually defined as serum sodium below 125 mEq (mmol) per litre, and may be without symptoms. The symptoms occur due to over hydration of cells of the central nervous system.
Sodium deficiency causes weakness, giddiness, anorexia, cramps in muscles which are exercised the most (particularly calf muscles), twitching and convulsions, collapsed veins, cold extremities, and low blood pressure. Associated water deficiency is common. This produces, in addition to the above, scanty urine, dry mouth, inelastic skin, and disorientation. Acute depletion of sodium by 30% will lead to circulatory collapse and death.
Food sources of Sodium
The major source of sodium is salt added during cooking. Processed cheese, ham, bacon, sausages, dried fish, butter and nuts are rich in sodium, as salt is added to them. Any attempt at reducing salt intake should therefore be directed at reduction in the salt used during food processing.
Antacids used for the treatment of peptic ulcer may provide a considerable amount of sodium.
Low Sodium Diet
Retention of sodium in the body causes fluid retention, resulting in edema and ascites. A low sodium diet is indicated in edema due to congestive heart failure, kidney diseases, liver cirrhosis, toxemia of pregnancy, and during prolonged administration of corticosteroids. In high blood pressure, moderate sodium restriction is beneficial; some authorities doubt the benefit of low sodium intake in treated hypertensive men.
It is not the concentration of sodium in foodstuffs alone, but also the total amount of the foodstuffs consumed that determine the total sodium intake. Compared to milk, spinach has twice the concentration of sodium; but an occasional helping of 60-100 g of spinach supplies far less sodium than a daily consumption of 500 ml of milk. Natural foods contain little sodium. Processed and preserved foods, condiments, soft drinks, snacks, canned fruits and vegetables, meats, dairy products, bread, and cereal products are the common sources of sodium. The American Medical Association recommends that all processed foods have a label indicating sodium content. Low sodium diets allow 1.52.0 g sodium (65-87 mmol; 4-5 g salt).
Patient compliance with sodium restriction can be confirmed by estimation of sodium in overnight urine collection.
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