You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Mineral Directory - Sodium

[Do Not Use]DK Publishing logo[Do Not Use]DK Publishing 2/07/2014 DKBooks


Daily requirement
men: 500mg per day
women: 500mg per day

Best known as a component of table salt (sodium chloride), sodium (Na) is vital for controlling the amount of water in the body, maintaining the normal pH (degree of acidity or alkalinity) of blood, transmitting nerve signals, and helping muscular contraction. It is present in all foods in varying degrees, and almost all processed foods also have added salt.

Unlike all other minerals, sodium is, on the whole, overconsumed. Dietary intake is very high in North America—averaging about twenty times the recommended daily requirement of 500mg. Symptoms of increased salt intake include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. High concentrations of sodium in the body can also result from excessive water or fluid loss. Persistently high levels of sodium in the blood can result in swelling, high blood pressure, difficulty in breathing, and heart failure, and may be fatal.

Sodium deficiency

A deficiency of this mineral is rare since our dietary intake is so high. However, the levels of sodium in the body can become too low as a result of prolonged vomiting or diarrhea, or during a period of prolonged illness. Levels of sodium in the body can also become low as a result of dehydration or excessive or persistent sweating, which may occur during very hot weather or affect marathon runners, athletes who participate in triathlons, or people who have certain forms of kidney disease, such as acute kidney failure.

Symptoms of sodium deficiency include headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps, drowsiness, fainting, fatigue, and possibly coma.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon