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).


Authored by Dr Peter Engel in 2010, reviewed and revised by Dr. Volker Elste on 20.09.2017.

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Health Functions

Sodium plays a role in absorbing chloride, amino acids, glucose, and water, while chloride aids the digestion and absorption of many nutrients.

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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

    The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of sodium and chloride is dependent on age, gender, and other factors.

  • 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.

  • Sources

    Salt is the biggest source of both sodium (Na) and chloride (Cl) with 75% of sodium consumed in America coming from salt added during food manufacturing.

  • 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.