Sodium (Na)

Na – Sodium is found in igneous rocks at 23,600 ppm; shale at 9,600 ppm; sandstone at 3,30Oppm; limestone at 400 ppm; fresh water at 6.3 ppm; sea water at 10,500 Ppm; soil at 6,300 ppm (is a major exchangeable cation in soil especially alkaline soil; marine plants at 33,000 ppm; land plants at 1,200 ppm; marine animals at 4,000 to 48,000 ppm; and land animals at 4,000 ppm.
“Salt hunger dates back to the very beginning of animals and man and is one of the very basic cravings of living organisms. Carnivores (man or beast) do not show the great craving for salt because meat contains relatively large amounts of NaCI, but herbivores and human vegetarians demand large amounts of NaCI because there is little or no natural NaCI in grains, vegetables and fruits. The average sodium dietary intake per day in western cultures is five to 12 Gm/day while the Japanese who on the average out live Americans by four years consume an average of 28 Gm/day!!

Sodium, Cl and K are three indispensable “electrolytes” so intimately associated in the body that they can be presented together. Sodium makes up two percent, K five percent and Cl three percent of the total mineral content of the human body. All three are widely distributed throughout the body tissues and fluids; however, Na and Cl are primarily extracellular (outside the cell) minerals while K is an intracellular (inside the cell) mineral. Sodium, K and Cl are involved in at least four important physiological functions in the body:

1) Maintenance of normal water balance and distribution

2) Maintenance of normal osmotic equilibrium

3) Maintenance of normal acid-base balance

4) Maintenance of normal muscular irritability

Hormonal control of Na, K and Cl balance is regulated by the adrenal cortex hormones as well as by the anterior pituitary gland. Addison’s Disease, a loss of function of the adrenal cortex, results in the loss of Na and K retention with clinical signs of general weakness, muscle cramps, weight loss and a marked “salt hunger.” The symptoms can be relieved with the supplementation of NaCI or by administering adrenal cortical hormones.

Deficiencies of NaCI occur primarily in hot weather (the heat wave of July 1993) or heavy work in a hot climate when large volumes of sweat are required for body cooling. “Water intoxication occurred in infants fed low Na formulas because of the allopathic doctors paranoia with Na – their brains swelled causing death from a simple Na deficiency.

The treatment for Na deficiency is water and salt either orally or IV (saline 0.9

Sodium is the major positively charged ion in body fluids. Due to their chemical nature, metallic elements such as sodium exist in solutions and in compounds as cations, positively charged ions, where they counterbalance negatively charged ions, such as chloride. Sodium therefore functions in maintaining electrolyte balance, that is, the balance between negatively and positively charged ions and among complex ions such as proteins in the blood. Sodium predominates in the extracellular fluid, while potassium, another cation, concentrates within cells. Normally chloride and sodium tends to leak into cells, while potassium tends to leak out. Sodium is pumped out of cells, while potassium is pumped inward by means of an energy-dependent process called “‘active transport.”‘ Maintaining normal cell volume (and shape) depends upon sodium and potassium pumping. The active transport of sodium and potassium is a predominant energy-consuming process of the cells, accounting for a large percentage of the total energy expenditure of the body.

Sodium plays a vital role in controlling osmotic pressure, the pressure that develops between the blood and cells due to ionic concentration differences. The total volume of extracellular fluid is determined by its sodium level, which the body maintains under tight control by means of the endocrine and nervous systems. By balancing charges of negatively charged ions like chloride, bicarbonate and phosphate, sodium assists in maintaining the proper balance between acidic and alkaline substances (acid-base balance).

Sodium works with potassium in nerve function. To transmit a nerve impulse, the nerve cell membrane is temporarily “depolarized”‘; potassium temporarily leaks outside and sodium and chloride leak in. This generates a decrease in electrical potential, which triggers a voltage-dependent increase in sodium penetration. Restoration of the potential differences to the resting state allows the impulse to be transmitted as a self-propagating wave down a nerve cell. Muscles, especially heart muscles, require interplay of sodium and potassium by similar mechanisms.

The kidney normally reabsorbs sodium that was filtered out into the urine to maintain electrolyte balance. Water follows sodium back into the blood. thus hormones that increase sodium retention by the kidney also increase water retention. Sodium concentration and water balance are controlled by interplay of the kidney and several hormones: When the level of sodium drops, the kidney releases the enzyme renin. Renin catalyzes the conversion of a blood protein to angiotensin. In turn this hormone stimulates the adrenal gland to release aldosterone, a hormone that causes the kidney to increase the rate of sodium reabsorption from filtered fluid to correct the original sodium depletion. On the other hand ‘ when dietary sodium intake is high, the kidney rapidly excretes sodium. Through the operation of these homeostatic (body balancing) mechanisms, the amount of sodium excreted is adjusted to equal the amount consumed. Ninety percent of ingested sodium is excreted; some is lost through sweat and feces. Excessive sodium intake and retention can lead to edema.

Sodium Requirements

There is no Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for sodium. The Food and Nutrition Board proposed a safe and adequate level as 1,100 to 3,300 mg per day in 1980. The 1989 RDA recommendations list the minimum requirements for healthy persons (adults 18 or older) as 500 mg of sodium daily. The sodium requirements of infants and small children are estimated to be about 58 mg daily. The amount of sodium required maintaining sodium equilibrium for most adults may be less than 200 mg under normal circumstances, equivalent to one-tenth a teaspoon of salt per day. The overall consensus is that Americans generally consume too much salt. The typical adult intake is 6 to 25 g of salt, with a mean of 10 g/day, equivalent to 4 g of sodium, 20 times as much as the listed minimum. The maximum recommended daily intake of sodium chloride is 6 g (2.4 g).

Few people in the United States are sodium deficient. Relatively heavy sweating is now associated with a need for extra salt and the primary concern should be fluid replacement. Athletes undergoing strenuous physical exercise do not need salt until they have lost approximately 3 quarts of water by sweating. The kidney adapts to sodium losses in hot weather, so that less sodium, hence less water, is excreted. One typical meal will more than make up for sodium lost in sweat through moderate exercise. Note that chronic diarrhea, kidney disease or other medical conditions can limit the body’s ability to retain sodium and thus increase sodium requirements. Excessive sodium can be toxic to infants because their kidneys are not fully developed; it may also be toxic to those with kidney disease or those who have adjusted to a chronically low-sodium diet.

Sodium and High Blood Pressure

Sodium has been linked to high blood pressure (hypertension) in extensive studies spanning decades. Perhaps 10 to 20% of Americans experience increased blood pressure when they eat excess sodium. High blood pressure increases the risk of stroke, heart attack and kidney disease. Worldwide, a low sodium intake matches a lowered risk of hypertension. Certainly obesity, genetic makeup, lack of exercise and excessive alcohol are risk factor for developing hypertension. Salt sensitivity increases with age. As people grow older, their kidneys excrete less sodium, and an increased sodium intake is more likely to raise blood pressure in susceptible people. Cutting back on salt intake may lower blood pressure by a small amount; however, even relatively small decreases in blood pressure readings could mean a significant decrease in the risk of death due to coronary heart disease. Excessive sodium increases urinary losses of calcium and can contribute to the risk of osteoporosis. Additionally, a high-salt diet is a dominant risk factor for stomach cancer. Governmental dietary guidelines recommend moderate sodium consumption, and individuals with hypertension or who have a family history of hypertension may be advised to curtail sodium consumption.

NOTE: There are companies that sell “deep-mined salt” that is a naturally occurring salt. This salt can be used just like table salt. It is not as “salty” as commercial salts. Morton’s salt is heated to such a high degree that the molecular structure of that salt has been altered. This salt is now more concentrated and basically more toxic to the human body. Natural salt is actually good for the body. It tends to normalize many body functions and does not cause high blood pressure like the commercial salts do.

You may contact me for the name of one such company that has a natural deep-mined salt.