Sodium & Chloride

Sodium (Na) is a metallic element soluble in water, where it is mostly counterbalanced by chloride (Cl) to form sodium chloride (NaCl), or common table salt.

Sodium chloride is essential for life, with tight regulation of the body's sodium ion (Na+) and chloride ion (Cl─) concentrations outside of cells (including blood plasma).

Although a minimal amount of salt is required for survival, the health implications of excess salt intake represent an area of intensive research (1, 2).

Health Functions

Sodium ions and chloride ions contribute to the maintenance of concentration and charge differences across cell membranes. Potassium (K+) is the principal positively charged ion (cation) in the fluid inside of cells (30 times higher concentration than outside), while sodium (Na+) is the principal cation in the fluid outside of cells (10 times higher concentration than inside).

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Things to know about Sodium & Chloride

  • Dietary Sodium Chloride and Disease

    There are many factors affecting the onset and progress of osteoporosis and nutrition is one of them. Excretion of calcium in urine has been found to increase with greater salt (NaCl) consumption (11).

  • Intake Recommendations

    In 1993, the European Scientific Committee for Food established an acceptable sodium intake range for adults: 25–150 millimoles (mmol) per day, which is equivalent to 575–3,450 milligrams (mg)* (55).

  • Supply Situation

    The habitual intake of sodium for populations across Europe is high and exceeds the amounts required for normal function.

  • Deficiency

    Sodium (and chloride) deficiency does not generally result from inadequate dietary intake, even in those on very low-salt diets (5).

  • Sources

    Salt is our biggest source of both sodium and chloride. 75% of sodium consumed in America comes from the salt added during food manufacture, not from that which is added at the table as a condiment, according to estimates.

  • Safety

    Blood volume is increased by excessive salt intake but this can be excreted by the kidneys as long as enough water is consumed (60).

  • References

    Consult the full list of scientific references.