Sodium Recipe & Nutrition | Precision Nutrition's Encyclopedia of Food

Sodium

Sodium

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At a Glance

Sodium is an essential mineral that the body can only obtain through food. Sodium helps us absorb amino acids, glucose, and water. It helps regulate our blood pressure. And it plays a role in nerve impulse transmission, cardiac function, and muscle contraction. While processed foods can deliver needlessly high levels of sodium, many whole foods naturally contain small, healthy amounts of sodium. These foods include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, nuts and seeds.

Overview

Sodium is an essential mineral for humans. Since your body doesn’t produce it, you must obtain it through food. Many foods naturally contain small amounts of sodium. And foods with salt as a flavour enhancer provide much higher amounts. Processed foods are often very high in sodium, and it can accumulate quickly in your body and pose a danger to your health. But diets based on whole, unprocessed foods aren’t likely to be too high in sodium.

Importance

Sodium has many functions in the body including:

  • Assisting in the absorption of chloride, amino acids, glucose, and water
  • Regulating extracellular fluid status, blood volume, and blood pressure
  • Maintaining the electrochemical gradient across cell membranes, which is necessary for nerve impulse transmission, cardiac function, and muscle contraction.

Food Sources

Sodium can be found in several foods including:

  • Whole grains
  • Whole fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Lean meats
  • Legumes
  • Nuts/seeds.

Deficiencies

Common symptoms and resulting conditions of sodium deficiency include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Cramps
  • Fatigue
  • Disorientation.

However, your individual response could be different. If you suspect a health problem or deficiency in certain nutrients, please see your primary health care provider (doctor, naturopath, etc). They can help unravel the complexity of your physiology.

Note: Sodium deficiency doesn’t typically result from low dietary intake. Low blood sodium is usually a consequence of increased fluid retention.

Excess/Toxicity

Common symptoms of sodium excess/toxicity include:

  • Increased fluid volume and edema
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps.

However, your individual response could be different. If you suspect a health problem or an excess of certain nutrients, please see your primary health care provider (doctor, naturopath, etc). They can help unravel the complexity of your physiology.

Note: High blood sodium usually results from excessive water loss.

Recipe

For recipes rich in sodium (naturally occurring in whole foods – not added to refined foods), check out any of the Encyclopedia of Food entries for food items listed above.

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At a Glance

Sodium is an essential mineral that the body can only obtain through food. Sodium helps us absorb amino acids, glucose, and water. It helps regulate our blood pressure. And it plays a role in nerve impulse transmission, cardiac function, and muscle contraction. While processed foods can deliver needlessly high levels of sodium, many whole foods naturally contain small, healthy amounts of sodium. These foods include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, nuts and seeds.