Sodium regulates and balances the amount of fluids outside the cells in the body and aids in muscle contractions and nerve function.
Healthy American adults should eat no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day. This is about 1 teaspoon of sodium chloride (salt).
Some drugs have high amounts of sodium. Carefully read the labels on all over-the-counter drugs. Look at the ingredient list and warning statement to see if the product has sodium.
A statement of sodium content must be on labels of antacids that have 5 mg or more per dosage unit (tablet, teaspoon, etc.).
Most spices naturally contain very small amounts of sodium. Those with the most sodium are black pepper, cayenne, chili, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, sage, thyme, cumin, coriander, dill, allspice, fennel, fenugreek, basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, peppermint, curry, garlic, paprika, nutmeg, salt, tarragon, caraway seed, chives, savory, anise, saffron, parsley and chervil. (Source: Nutrition Data)
In the diet, you get sodium from processed foods and table salt.
According to the Dietary Guidelines, most Americans should keep sodium intake at 2,300 milligrams per day or less. That is about the amount found in a scant one-teaspoon measurement.
Seniors and those with high blood pressure should aim for even less; about 1,500 milligrams. However, the average American consumes more than 4,000 milligrams daily -- almost two times the suggested limit.
Hidden sources of sodium include: Breakfast cereal, salad dressing, canned beans, barbecue sauce.
Because salt acts as a preservative, it is a common ingredients in foods with long shelf lives. Researchers estimate that 77 percent of the sodium the average American consumes arrives in his or her diet via processed foods.
Other hidden sources include cured meats, frozen or boxed foods, and fast foods. Choose whole foods and cook at home to control the sodium content of the foods you eat.
Cheese can be a surprisingly high source of sodium. For example, in one-ounce servings Parmesan contains 454mg, Feta 376mg, Provolone, 248mg, Cheddar 176mg, and Swiss 54mg.
Parmesan contains three times more sodium than one ounce of potato chips! Hard cheeses like Parmesan, are often saltier than softer cheeses because they are bathed in brine, a saltwater solution, to enhance flavor and prolong shelf life.
Potassium, a mineral found in fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, legumes and dairy products, helps reduce the rise in blood pressure caused by high-sodium foods.
When you crave salty foods, this may mean you body is adrenalin-fatigued. Although human sodium needs are low, the adrenals balance human fluid and salt levels. When a salty craving hits, try eating celery, seaweed, raw cultured vegetables, Swiss chard or spinach.
Current recommendations are for 4,700 milligrams of potassium per day, an amount readily available by eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
There are some situations where supplementing with sodium is beneficial. Extremely low blood pressure and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome are two examples.
Excessive heat exposure (resulting in excessive sweating) is another possible need for sodium. Sadly a sufficient product is getting more and more difficult to find - but we have one for you!
Did You Know?
An 8-ounce frozen margarita with a salted rim contains 1,369mg of sodium!
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