Sodium has a bad reputation in the health community because of many health problems associated with high sodium levels, including high blood pressure, headache, heart diseases, and thrombosis. The root of this problem comes from fast-food chains, junk foods, processed foods, and even juices that use sodium as a flavor enhancer. This problem is a part of our modern society because older generations didn’t have processed food, and most of their diet was fresh food directly from the earth without modification. Thus, high sodium levels in the blood were not common in these past generations as it is now.
However, sodium is an essential mineral of the human body, and the majority of body functions depend on this mineral. Sodium is critical for regulating fluid volume in the body, nerve conduction, muscle contractions, and blood pressure. Low sodium levels are not as common as high sodium levels, but it is common in people with certain conditions like kidney and liver diseases, and it should not be overlooked because severe sodium deficiency is a life-threatening condition.
What does sodium do for the body?
Sodium and potassium oppose each other in their function, but they also have similar benefits and actions in different aspects of our physiology.
› Boosts energy
Sodium is essential as energy source because it is important for muscle contraction and nerve transmission to perform brain orders such as walking and running.
› Maintains Normal blood pressure
Normal sodium levels are important to maintain normal blood pressure levels. Healthy people with no underlining diseases may suffer from low blood pressure, a condition called idiopathic hypotension. These people can benefit from an increase in sodium levels in the blood to increase their naturally low blood pressure levels.
› Strengthens muscle contraction
Muscle contraction is affected by many factors and minerals like potassium and sodium. Sodium and potassium work together to stimulate and strengthen muscle contraction by stimulating minerals influx (calcium) into the muscles to induce contraction. They also promote nerve impulses to the muscles to assist with muscle contraction.
› Protects the heart
All the negative effects of sodium occur when levels are too high, but normal sodium levels are essential for heart contraction and to regulate its rhythm.
› Prevents diabetes
› Elevates mood and brain functions
Research shows that sodium can act as an antidepressant and that is why the body usually craves more sodium, leading to a vicious cycle that may increase sodium levels in the blood.
» Now, let’s discuss sources of sodium.