The mineral that we will be exploring this week is sodium also known as salt. In terms of chemistry, the real name for sodium is sodium chloride. It has been found to be that 90% of the sodium we consume is from salt. This mineral is essential to our body as it is needed for various functions and body fluids. Sodium gets a bad reputation due to the overconsumption in our diet that is not only in America but globally.
Functions of Sodium
On top of being a mineral sodium is also an electrolyte. An electrolyte is important in our diet to help you stayed hydrated before and after workouts. Sodium also plays a role in water retention, and aids in muscles / nerve function. Our bodies have been found to store up 85% of our sodium in our lymph fluid and blood. The hormone aldosterone is respobile for controlling levels of sodium that is stored or excreted by our kidneys. Sodium is excreted by our urine in our body but can also be lost through sweat glands.
Recommended Intake of Sodium
Intake levels of sodium have been found to be an alarming issue within our diets. The FDA recommends less then 2,300mg of sodium a day which is equivalent to 1 teaspoon of salt. However, it has been proven that the average American is consuming 3,400mg of salt a day. Overconsumption of salt is has been linked to increase risk of developing high blood pressure (leading to hypertension), increase risk of stroke, and increase risk of heart disease. Most of the salt in our diet has been found to be coming from packages and prepared foods. To help reduce your sodium intake it is imperative to be reading the nutrition facts label to ensure you are aware of the slat you will be consuming per serving.
Foods that are Consumed Most Abundantly with High Sodium
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about half of the sodium consumed by Americans comes from the foods listed below.
Breads and rolls
Sandwiches (such as hamburgers, hot dogs, and submarine sandwiches)
Cold cuts and cured meats (such as deli and packaged ham and turkey)
Burritos and tacos
Snack foods (such as chips, crackers, microwave popcorn, and pretzels)
Chicken (includes processed chicken)
Cheese (includes processed cheese)
Egg dishes and omelets
Being aware of these food products and reading food labels can help you manage the sodium levels you are consuming. Sodium is found highly in many packages food because it helps preserve food products extending the shelf life. If you have time in your day cooking meals at home with fresh products can help you manage the recommended intake of sodium.
Resources: U.S. Food and & Drug Administration. Sodium in Your Diet. Updated April 2,2020. Retrieved on April 26th 2021. https://www.fda.gov/food/nutrition-education-resources-materials/sodium-your-diet