Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Minerals : Sodium

Minerals are organic elements present in the soil. Plants absorb the minerals from their growth medium. We need very small amounts of each mineral in our diet, but they are essential to maintain all nerve and muscle function, teeth, bones and body cells. Minerals are insoluble in water and need to be bonded with a soluble compound before they can be properly utilised. That is why foods are the very best sources.

Functions of Sodium:
Necessary to maintain cellular fluid balance
Aids in nerve impulse transmission
Maintains blood pressure
Needed for muscle contraction

Sources of Sodium:
All foods, in varying degrees
Breakfast cereal
Processed foods

Deficiency symptoms:
Muscle cramps
Poor appetite
Dry skim
Dry mouth

Sodium is readily available in nearly all foods, and as you can see from the list of sources we are more likely to have too much than too little. Go easy on the salt: your daily intake should not exceed 1600mg. You’ll notice that, other than when cooking starches (potatoes, pasta, rice) I never add salt to a dish in my recipes. Additional sodium may be required if you have a prolonged illness involving diarrhea or vomiting, or you sweat excessively (as in very hot weather) or if you become dehydrated.

Supplements are unnecessary provided the diet includes plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Always check with your doctor before taking supplements of any kind. An excess of any mineral can have unpleasant side effects.

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