Sodium is an important element that your body requires to function properly, and salt is probably the most effective way to deliver it to your body. Not only does salt help maintain fluid balance, but it also helps ensure nerve function. However, it is important to remember that salt and sodium are only beneficial for the body in limited quantities, as consuming too much salt can lead to certain health issues.
Doctors often suggest limited salt or sodium intake because most people, especially Americans, get too much without even trying. However, while it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the amount of salt you consume, you mustn’t avoid it entirely as this mineral plays an integral role in the way your body functions.
Here are a few bodily functions that require salt intake:
Your thyroid plays a pivotal role in your metabolic functioning. However, your body requires the mineral iodine for your thyroid to work properly. This mineral is easily found in many foods.
An iodine deficiency in your body can prevent it from producing appropriate quantities of the thyroid hormone, leading to an enlarged thyroid, fatigue, constipation, difficulty focusing, and sensitivity to cold.
Since iodine is present in most salts and is particularly labeled, it is important to include iodized salts in your diet to help your thyroid function effectively.
Maintaining Hydration Levels
Salt helps balance your electrolytes while promoting healthy levels of hydration that are essential for your organs to function optimally.
Every part of your body, including your organs, muscles, cells, and tissues, requires water for proper functioning, and salt helps these parts maintain the appropriate amount of fluids. For instance, when the sodium levels in your body are too high, you will feel thirsty and drink more water, and your kidneys will speed up the process of getting rid of it.
Inadequate hydration levels result in dehydration, making your body more vulnerable to dizziness, fatigue, and serious muscle cramps.
Maintaining Blood Pressure Levels
Insufficient amounts of salt or sodium in your diet can lead to low blood pressure levels, almost known as hypotension. Your blood pressure reading is likely to be below 90/60 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) in this condition. If either of these numbers is low, your blood pressure will be considered low. Like high blood pressure, low blood pressure comes with its own set of effects and challenges, including fainting, nausea, blurred vision, and dizziness.
Improving Symptoms Of Cystic Fibrosis
Individuals suffering from cystic fibrosis tend to lose more salt while sweating in comparison to the average person. Therefore, they require more salt and water in their diet to avoid dehydration. Those dealing with this condition must consult their doctor to see the amount of salt they require daily, depending on their activity levels. It is either important to note that salt is pivotal for keeping those with cystic fibrosis in good health.
How To Consume Salt?
Sodium is naturally present in many foods. Sodium chloride, the most common form of sodium, is also known as table salt. Foods such as celery and beetroots naturally contain sodium. Liquids such as milk also contain sodium. Even drinking water contains sodium. However, the amount of sodium present in drinking water relies mainly on the water source.
Many other forms of sodium, including sodium nitrite, monosodium glutamate, sodium benzoate, and baking soda, are added to many food products, such as soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt, onion salt, and bouillon cubes.
Processed foods, such as sausage, bacon, ham, canned vegetable, and canned soups also contain amounts of added sodium. Even most processed baked goodies, such as cakes, doughnuts, cookies, and biscuits, contain high quantities of sodium. Additionally, all fast foods are typically very high in sodium.
Side Effects Of Consuming Excess Salt
Most Americans unknowingly consume excessively high quantities of sodium due to the high intake of processed and restaurant foods. As important as salt is for many body functions, excess or insufficient salt consumption can lead to many problems.
Many studies have shown the link between high salt consumption, high blood pressure, kidney stones, and even cardiovascular disease. On the other hand, inadequate salt consumption can lead to hyponatremia, confusion, dizziness, muscle twitches, and even seizures.
Salt Requirement Recommendations
Sodium levels that need to be included in your diet are measured in milligrams. Table salt is typically made of 40% sodium. Generally, one teaspoon of salt contains 2,300 mg of sodium.
It is recommended that healthy adults consume around 2,300 mg of sodium or 1 teaspoon of salt per day. On the other hand, adults with high blood pressure issues must limit their sodium consumption to 1,500 mg per day. Those facing serious health concerns, such as liver cirrhosis, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease, must focus on limiting the amounts of their daily sodium consumption even further.
While there aren’t any specific sodium limitations for children, teens, and infants, certain recommended levels of sufficient daily intake for healthy growth are recommended. Infants younger than 6 months must have a salt consumption of 120 mg per day. Infants between the ages of 6 to 12 months can consume around 370 mg per day. Children between the ages of 1 to 3 years must consume around 1,000 mg a day. Those between the ages of 4 to 8 years must include around 1,200 mg of sodium in their diet, while children and teens between the ages of 9 and 18 should incorporate 1,500 mg of sodium.
Salt is an important part of our diet as it helps regulate many functions of the body. Therefore, incorporating balanced and adequate amounts of salt in your diet can help your body’s effective functioning.