Sodium regulates the total amount of fluid in the body and plays a major role in cellular function in the nervous system and muscles. The movement of sodium, inside and outside of the cells, is critical for generating electrical signals. Too much or too little sodium can cause cells to malfunction, and too much can be fatal.
The higher the sodium in the body, the higher the blood pressure because the sodium causes fluid to be retained, increasing blood volume and blood pressure. Keeping blood pressure in the normal range reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and kidney disease.
A typical American consumes far more sodium, in the form of salt, than is healthy. In addition to this overuse of salt, Americans consume far less potassium than recommended. If you remember high school chemistry, salt breaks up into sodium and chloride. Chloride is an acid. When we consume excess chloride, the kidney is responsible for removing it, and when it can no longer keep up with the load, the body takes base stores from the bone to maintain a balance. This process results in a net loss of calcium from the body and contributes to osteoporosis, kidney stones, and loss of muscle mass. This imbalance also affects cardiovascular function and contributes to high blood pressure and stroke.
Adults and children should limit their intake of sodium. Start today to find ways to reduce salt in your diet.
More than 40 percent of sodium comes from 10 common types of food. CDC report finds sodium consumption high among U.S. children