Sodium (Na)

It is an alkaline extracellular cation. Along with potassium (K) and chlorine (Cl), it is one of the three nutrients that a person needs in large quantities. The sodium content in the body is 70-110 g. Of these, 1/3 is in the bones, 2/3 – in the fluid, muscle and nerve tissues.

Sodium rich foods

Indicated approximate availability in 100 g of product

Daily sodium requirement

The daily requirement for sodium is 4-6 g, but not less than 1 g. By the way, so much sodium is contained in 10-15 g of table salt.


The need for sodium increases with:

  • profuse sweating (almost 2 times), for example, with significant physical exertion in the heat;
  • taking diuretics;
  • severe vomiting and diarrhea;
  • extensive burns;
  • insufficiency of the adrenal cortex (Addison’s disease).


In a healthy body, sodium is excreted in the urine in almost the same amount as consumed.

Useful properties of sodium and its effect on the body

Sodium, together with chlorine (Cl) and potassium (K), participates in the regulation of water-salt metabolism, maintains a normal balance of tissue and extracellular fluids in the human and animal body, a constant level of osmotic pressure, takes part in the neutralization of acids, introducing an alkalizing effect in acidic alkaline equilibrium along with potassium (K), calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg).

Sodium is involved in the regulation of blood pressure and the mechanism of muscle contraction, maintaining a normal heartbeat, and imparting endurance to tissues. It is very important for the digestive and excretory systems of the body, helping to regulate the transport of substances in and out of each cell.

In most physiological processes, sodium acts as a potassium (K) antagonist, therefore, in order to maintain good health, it is necessary that the ratio of sodium to potassium in the diet is 1: 2. Excessive sodium in the body, which is harmful to health, can be neutralized by introducing additional amounts of potassium.

Interaction with other essential elements

Excess sodium intake leads to increased excretion of potassium (K), magnesium (Mg) and calcium (Ca) from the body.

Lack and excess of sodium

What does excess sodium lead to?

Sodium ions bind water and excess sodium intake from food leads to the accumulation of excess fluid in the body. As a result, blood pressure rises, which is a risk factor for heart disease and strokes.

With a deficiency of potassium (K), sodium from the extracellular fluid freely penetrates into the cells, introducing an excess amount of water, from which the cells swell and even burst, forming scars. Fluid accumulates in muscle and connective tissues, and dropsy occurs.

A constant excess of salt in the diet ultimately leads to edema, hypertension, and kidney disease.

Why is there an excess of sodium (Hypernatremia)

In addition to the actual excessive consumption of table salt, pickles or industrially processed foods, excess sodium can be obtained with kidney disease, treatment with corticosteroids, for example, cortisone, and stress.

In stressful situations, the adrenal glands produce large amounts of the hormone aldosterone, which contributes to sodium retention in the body.

Factors affecting sodium content in foods

The sodium content of foods and dishes is determined by the amount of sodium chloride added during cooking.

Why sodium deficiency occurs

Under normal conditions, sodium deficiency is extremely rare, but in conditions of increased sweating, for example, in hot weather, the amount of sodium lost in sweat can reach a level that is threatening to health, which can lead to fainting, and also poses a serious danger to life 1.

Also, the use of salt-free diets, vomiting, diarrhea and bleeding can lead to a lack of sodium in the body.

Read also about other minerals:

Leave a Reply