Sodium (Chemical term)

Sodium is high reactive light and soft alkali metal that is the sixth most common found element on Earth. Sodium is represented as Na in chemical symbol from its Latin name called Natrium. Sodium has an atomic number of 11 with 11 protons and 11 electrons. Sodium atom contains 12 neutrons. The combination of protons and neutrons of sodium produces 23 atomic mass. Sodium belongs to Group I of the periodic table.

Sodium can be found within the Sun, stars, comets and also found within a thin layer of earth's atmosphere. Scientists believe that it is sodium in our atmosphere that causes a faint light on the dark night. Sodium is a good conductor of electricity and has relatively low melting point. Sodium can appear in 3 forms: When freshly cut sodium is bright and shiny showing a metallic luster; when exposed to air it soon gets tarnished; sodium floats on water as it is light and soon disappears.

Sodium is use in:
  ♦ Mostly all food preservatives industries
  ♦ Helps in preserving the Egyptians' body once it was buried during ancient time
  ♦ Sodium chloride - used for eating, curing hides and fish, making washing soda and preservative in achars
  ♦ Sodium carbonate - used for washing, making caustic soda and softening hard water
  ♦ Sodium bicarbonate - used in medicine and baking powder

Sodium, Source and Human Health

Sodium is essential mineral in human body as we cannot produce sodium inside our body. Our body need minimum of about 500 mg per day of sodium in order to keep our body working properly. Majority of the sodium that we consume are in sodium chloride which is chemical name for salt. Sodium also can be found in meats, eggs, vegetables (beets, celery, carrots, lefty greens) and other animal products like dairy products (milk, cheese and yogurt).

The individual sodium needs varies depending on growth stages, medical condition and sweat loss. National Academy of Science?Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommended on sodium intake as follow
Age Adequate intakes
19 ?50 1500 mg
51 ?70 1300 mg
Above 70 1200 mg

Sodium Function

'sMost of our body's sodium content is sound in the extracellular fluid that serves as primary cation. Sodium normalizes quantity of extracellular fluid and plasma besides playing a crucial role in the membrane potential cells (the electrical potential difference across a cell's plasma membrane), transports glucose and galactose across membranes in the small intestine, helps to transmit nerve impulse in our body and regulate blood volume especially blood proteins like albumin which prevent our body from developing edema.

Sodium also has important tasks in body-water balance, acid-base balance and muscle action. Chloride along with sodium became sodium chloride, plays a role in keeping fluid ad electrolyte balance in our body. Chloride in the form of hydrochloric acid is an important component of gastric juice.

Sodium Absorption

Our small intestine is able to absorb about 98% of ingested sodium chloride. This absorbed sodium chloride will remain in the plasma, plasma water and interstitial fluid. Sodium chloride is excreted through sweat and urine from our body.

Sodium Deficiency

  • Headache
  • Muscle cramps
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of memory
  • Body suffers from dehydration especially athletic
  • Affects blood lipids
  • Affects insulin resistance
  • Increase risk of getting cardiovascular disease
  • Increase in plasma rennin activity

Sodium Side Effects

  • Elevates blood pressure causing high blood pressure and risk of stroke, heart disease and kidney disease
    (Note: Sodium:potassium ratios is more closely link with blood pressure. Potassium intake lowers blood pressure)
  • Hypertension
  • Edema


  • Sodium by Anne O'aly
  • Sodium By Michele Thomas
  • 500 Low Sodium Recipes: Lose the salt not the flavor in meals the whole family will love By Dick Logue
  • DRI, dietary reference intakes: the essential guide to nutrient requirements by Jennifer J Otten, Jennifer Pitzi Hellwig, Linda D Meyers
  • Foundations and clinical application of nutrition: a nursing approach by Michele Grodner, Sara Long, Sandra DeYoung
  • William's basic nutrition and diet therapy, Volume 1 by Stacy Nix

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