The body has approximately 100 g of sodium, of which 40–45 % is found in the bones and cartilage with the remaining amount in the cells (extracellular space). The body’s metabolism of sodium is closely linked with that of potassium and chloride.
About 2,5 to 3,5 g of sodium is excreted daily through the urine. 100 to 1800 mg of sodium are excreted through the skin by sweating.
Sources of sodium can be found mainly in processed foods to which salt has been added; while table salt is a mixture of sodium and chloride. 1 g of table salt contains 400 mg of sodium. A daily intake of 3-6 g of table salt is sufficient for the body. The daily average amount of salt consumed per person in Switzerland is approximately 9 g (3600 mg of sodium), due to the high consumption of bread, cheese and meat products.
The minimum daily 1500 mg requirement can be reached easily through the consumption of unsalted foods. Vegetables and fruits are relatively low in sodium and are particularly ideal in offsetting a high salt or sodium intake.
Functions in the Body
- Transmits electrical impulses to the cell walls
- Directs nerve impulses
- Maintains optimal osmolarity (regulates fluid content among cells)
- Regulates blood volume and blood pressure
- Activates various enzymes
- Important for bones and teeth
- Sodium deficiency is a rare occurrence, mostly due to the high sodium and/or salt content in many foods. However, there are disease related deficiencies, such as diarrhoea and disorders in carbohydrate metabolism which can cause a drop in blood pressure and/or heart rate or muscle cramps.
Water retention, high blood pressure, motor restlessness, muscle hyper-excitability, dry skin and drying out of mucous membranes.
It has not yet been conclusively established whether high sodium or salt intake is a catalyst for high blood pressure.
Sodium sources from food are almost completely absorbed by the body, due to sodium’s high water solubility.
Salt and salted foods, bread, cheese, sausages, salted snacks and ready meals.
Recommended Daily Amounts
Young people 1500 mg
Adults 1500 mg
Adults 65 years old and over 1500 mg
«5 a Day» helps you in meeting your body’s daily mineral and trace elements requirements.
1500 mg of sodium is provided to the body by 800 g of Swiss chard, or 1.3 kg of celery, or 1.5 kg of celeriac, 2.3 kg spinach, 2.5 kg beet root (red beet).
The following foods are low in sodium (<1 mg): cucumbers, corn, pumpkin, grapefruit, elderberries, peaches and gooseberries.