Sodium Chloride in a nutshell:
Sodium Chloride is essential for all cells to allow transport of nutrients into the cells. While we are all told to eat less salt, there is a daily minimum that we need, so read on to find out more.
Best source of Sodium Chloride for Juicers
Sodium Chloride is not something we can get much of from fruit and vegetables. We have listed some sources of sodium chloride below, but most people on a balanced diet will eat enough.
Sodium chloride, better known simply as salt or “table salt”, is an absolutely essential component of every diet. Getting either too much sodium chloride or not enough can cause serious health problems.
Alternate names: Sodium chloride; salt. Sea salt contains mineral components in addition to and adding color and flavor to sodium chloride.
What Does Sodium Chloride Do in the Human Body?
Every living thing needs sodium chloride for survival. Cells constantly pump positively charged sodium ions and negatively charged chloride ions to maintain the right electrostatic charge across their outer cell membranes.
Every cell in the human body maintains a slightly negative electrostatic potential across its outer layers. The slightly more negative charge inside the cell helps it pull in positively charged amino acids and hormones.
Some cells, however, have a stronger electrostatic potential than others. Cells in the pancreas, for example, maintain a electrostatic gradient of just -4 millivolts. This makes them very sensitive to salt. Cells in the heart muscles are much more active and need to absorb more nutrients. Heart muscle cells maintain an electrostatic gradient of -90 millivolts. While the cardiovascular system as a whole is very sensitive to salt, the beating muscle of the heart itself is not.
What Happens When We Don't Get Enough Sodium Chloride?
One of the jobs of the kidneys is to make sure we always have the right amount of sodium in the bloodstream so cells can maintain the right electrostatic charge. In rare instances, tissues may accumulate so much fluid that they pull sodium out of the bloodstream, or the kidneys may remove too much sodium from the bloodstream. Sodium levels can plummet in beer potomania (drinking so much beer without eating protein foods that the kidneys are not able to “pull” water out of the bloodstream) or polydypsia (drinking more than 12 liters/3 gallons of fluid per day) causing the kidneys to be overwhelmed by fluid.
Low sodium levels can also occur after trauma to the brain. The brain sends a message to the kidneys to remove sodium from the bloodstream so tissues outside the skull will swell rather than the brain itself. And low sodium levels can also occur in liver failure and congestive heart failure.
For a cell to keep its contents relatively more negatively charged than the surrounding blood plasma so it can pull nutrients inside, cells in other parts of the body fill with water. Cells all over the body literally power down to continue to be receiving just tiny amounts of the nutrients they need.
As sodium and chloride levels go lower and lower, there can be fatigue, coma, and death. In the most severe cases, death can occur in just a few hours. In chronic cases, sodium has to be introduced to the bloodstream slowly to keep from upsetting potassium balance, which can also injure cells and tissues.
What Happens We Get Too Much Sodium Chloride?
It's also possible to have too much sodium chloride in the bloodstream. This most commonly occurs in elderly people who have bladder infections. It can also occur in people who have brain injuries causing impairment of their sense of thirst and in people who are unable to get up to drink water.
Extremely high sodium levels in the bloodstream force cells push water out and pump sodium in to maintain their electrostatic charge. Brain and nerve cells can literally shrivel, but the accumulation of sodium and other positively charged ions can cause them to swell and even burst when fluids are restored.
Are You at Risk of High or Low Levels of Sodium Chloride?
Fortunately, dangerously high and dangerously low levels of sodium and chloride are very rare. Within limits, almost no matter what we do, our kidneys will maintain the right amounts of both sodium and chloride in our bloodstreams. If we go on a low-salt diet, our kidneys retain more sodium and chloride. If we eat too much salt, the kidneys send more sodium and chloride into the bloodstream.
While we are all constantly reminded most people get too much salt, there is actually a minimum amount of salt (sodium chloride) needed for good health.
- Infants aged 0 to 6 months need 300 mg of salt per day.
- Infants aged 7 to 12 months need 930 mg of salt per day.
- Children aged 1 to 3 need 2500 mg of salt per day.
- Children aged 4 to 8 need 3000 mg of salt per day.
- Everyone between the ages of 9 and 50 needs 3800 mg of salt per day.
- People over the age of 50 need to cut back to 3000 mg of salt per day.
What does it take to get 1000 mg of salt? That's the amount of salt in:
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) of canned soup,
- 2/3 oz (20 grams) of Marmite yeast spread,
- 1 slice of white bread,
- 3 slices of wheat bread,
- a 3-ounce (84 gram) cucumber pickle,
- 1/3 of a cup (70 grams) of scalloped potatoes made from a boxed mix,
- 1/2 oz (14 grams) of canned anchovies or pickled herring,
- 1/2 oz (14 grams) of hard salami,
- 1 oz (28 grams) of most cold cuts (luncheon meats), or
- 1 oz (28 grams/about 1/3 of a small bag) of potato chips.
It's not hard to get enough salt if you eat bread, pickles, chips, or any kind of preserved meat. But how much salt is too much?
Lowering salt too much, however, can make diabetes harder to control, and increase the risk of side effects from diuretics, NSAID pain relievers (especially Aleve, Advil, and Motrin), antidepressants, and some medications for high cholesterol. For most of us, it's a good idea to limit salty foods to just one serving a day, and not to go on a low-salt diet unless there is a specific reason, such as diagnosis of high blood pressure.