You are looking for information about the quantity element sodium? Then you have come to the right place, because in this article you will find the most important details about the chemical element. At the beginning, I introduce you to the basics in a profile, before it continues with intake, daily requirement, physiological function, overdose, deficiency and sodium sources. I have also summarized valuable information for vegans and vegetarians and which dietary supplements can be useful.
Here is in advance a short Overview for you:
- Daily requirement
- Food supplement
Notice: This article is not a substitute for medical advice, but merely provides general information about sodium. Please see your doctor if you feel unwell or want to prevent health problems with medical care.
Sodium STECKBRIEF at a glance
Assignment: Set element, element category alkali metals
Important for: Regulation of blood pressure, water balance and acid-base balance, maintenance of cell membrane potential and transport of molecules.1
Daily requirement: 1,500-2,000 mg/day from the age of 15.2,3
Recording: through food intake, mainly salt
Overdose: USDA Maximum Recommended Intake 2,300 mg/day4 Many other authorities have not defined an intake limit1,2,3,5
Deficiency symptoms: Among other things, confusion, lack of appetite, malaise and vomiting to low blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmias or convulsions.1
Sources: Salt and processed foods high in salt
Nutritional supplement: redundant
What is the best way to absorb sodium?
Unlike many micronutrients, of which we tend to take in too little, the reverse is true for sodium: most people consume excessive amounts of sodium.6 On average, men consume 3,216 mg/day and women 2,379 mg/day.7 This is mainly due to the fact that in industrialized countries salting is excessive and our body, due to evolution and the low sodium intake in the past, uses the mineral very sparingly.8
Sodium is a water-soluble bulk element. This means that it is excreted via the kidney. In order to protect the organ and avoid other risks from an over-supply of sodium, the question therefore arises as to what the appropriate intake is and how you can reduce it if necessary.
How much sodium is healthy?
Unlike many other nutrients, the German Nutrition Society (DGE) has not set a minimum intake for sodium, but a recommended estimate. This is 1,500 mg per day from the age of 15 and also applies to Pregnant and breastfeeding women.2
Somewhat higher is the amount of European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) fixed estimated value of 2,000 mg.3 In the following table you will find the reference values of the DGE for the daily sodium intake of Children and teenagers.
|Children and teenagers||Recommended intake in mg|
|1 to under 4 years||400|
|4 to under 7 years||500|
|7 to under 10 years||750|
|10 to under 13 years||1.100|
|13 to under 15 years||1.400|
What are the functions of sodium?
Sodium is associated with the minerals Calcium, Potassium and Chloride for the regulation of the Water balance responsible. The mineral also regulates the Acid-base balance and the Blood pressure. Furthermore, it serves to maintain the cell membrane potential and to transport molecules across the cell membrane.1,5
The Sodium functions brief and concise overview:
- Regulation of the water balance
- Regulation of the acid-base balance
- Blood pressure regulation
- Preservation of the membrane potential
- Cellular transport of molecules
Is it possible to take in too much sodium?
Excessive sodium intake increases the risk of developing Hypertension and consequently cardiovascular diseases. So far, only the US Department of Agriculture has set a maximum intake limit of 2,300 mg per day.4 To reduce the risk of high blood pressure, it is also recommended to increase the consumption of foods containing potassium and low in sodium.9
When it comes to Acute overuse with sodium, the water balance gets out of balance and confusion, overexcitability, convulsions or even coma occur.1
Is a sodium deficiency possible?
As already mentioned, we tend to consume too much sodium rather than too little - which is why a sodium deficiency is also a correspondingly rare phenomenon. In exceptional cases, extreme sweating, diarrhea or vomiting can lead to deficiency symptoms. Then occur Symptoms such as low blood pressure, heart palpitations, convulsions, dry skin or a disturbance of the neuronal transmission of stimuli.
Which foods contain a lot of sodium?
To make sure you don't take in too much sodium, it's a good idea to know foods that are high in sodium. About 75 percent of sodium intake is due to the consumption of processed foods.5 In Germany, these are mainly Bread, meat, sausage and dairy products, in particular Cheese.7 The largest proportion is consumed as sodium chloride (i.e. table salt). In Europe, the average consumption of table salt is 8 to 11 grams per day, which corresponds to about 3 to 5 grams of sodium.5
In order to maintain a high sodium intake and the correspondingly increasing Reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, you should Avoid foods high in sodium, processed foods and foods containing meat, as well as many foods rich in potassium, such as Fruit and vegetables eat
Tip: You can find more details about this in the separate article on Potassium.
How to reduce your sodium intake
Here are some more practical tipsto reduce your sodium intake.
It's best to cook fresh at home a lot, using herbs or Celery salt for seasoning and minimize the amount of salt. Also pay attention to the salt content when buying ready-made products, reduce your meat consumption and increase the amount of fruits and vegetables in your diet.9,10
Notice: Even more important than a reduction in sodium consumption is that the intake of potassium is higher than that of sodium. This greatly reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
What do vegans need to consider when it comes to sodium?
According to the German Nutrition Society (DGE), sodium is considered to be not considered a potentially critical nutrient with a plant-based diet.11 This means that vegans and vegetarians do not have to pay special attention to sodium supply.
A vegan diet offers with regard to the sodium balance even advantagesbecause, on average, vegans eat less processed food and, logically, no meat.
Should sodium be supplemented?
Supplementation with sodium is usually not necessary. Therefore, I will not make a recommendation of a particular supplement here.
Sodium FAQ: The most frequently asked questions
How important is sodium for the body?
Sodium is an important nutrient for the human body because it regulates water balance, acid-base balance and blood pressure.
What happens when there is too much sodium in the body?
With increased sodium intake, the risk of suffering from high blood pressure and heart disease is increased. Acute over-supply can lead to confusion, convulsions or even coma.
How much sodium do you need per day?
According to leading nutrition societies, an adult person needs about 1,500-2,000 mg of sodium per day.
Where is there a lot of sodium?
Sodium is found primarily in table salt, processed products, meat products and sausage, and cheese.
How do I eat a low-sodium diet?
It is best to avoid the consumption of convenience foods, meat products and increase the amount of fruits and vegetables in your meals. In addition, you can also use celery salt instead of table salt.
Eat healthy and reduce sodium intake
With a wholesome, vegan diet with lots of fruits and vegetables and few processed foods, you will not exceed the recommended intake and still receive sufficient amounts of the mineral. In addition to a healthy diet, I recommend that you take the Forest bathing or Cold showers to try out to improve your health in the sense of the Salutogenesis to bring it up to scratch.
If you have any questions, criticism or suggestions, feel free to write me a comment.
All the best,
PS.: If you want to eat vegan and wholefood, then you will find in the article vegan life for your conversion valuable tips. If you want to know more about minerals or vitamins, then take a look at the contributions to Magnesium or Vitamin B12.
1 Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung e. V.: Selected questions and answers on sodium, https://www.dge.de/wissenschaft/faqs/natrium/#c4056. [04.01.2022].
2 German Nutrition Society: Sodium, https://www.dge.de/wissenschaft/referenzwerte/natrium/?L=0. [04.01.2022].
3 European Food Safety Authority: reference values for sodium and chloride intakes - your views on draft opinions, https://www.efsa.europa.eu/de/press/news/190403 [04.01.2022].
4 US Department of Agriculture: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025, https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2021-03/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans-2020-2025.pdf. [04.01.2022].
5 The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, Medicine (2019) Dietary References for Sodium and Potassium, http://nap.edu/25353 [04 Jan 2022].
6 European Food Safety Authority: EFSA advises on adverse effects of sodium, https://www.efsa.europa.eu/de/news/efsa-provides-advice-adverse-effects-sodium. [04.01.2022].
7 Max Rubner Institute. J. Möhring, H. F. Erbersdobler (2008). National consumption study II - results report part 2. In Food Commodity Science For Beginners, (Springer), pp. 121-146. Online: https://www.mri.bund.de/de/institute/ernaehrungsverhalten/forschungsprojekte/nvsii/erg-verzehr-naehrstoffe. [04.01.2022].
8 Center of health: Determine mineral deficiency: Diagnosis, https://www.zentrum-der-gesundheit.de/krankheiten/weitere-erkrankungen/mangelerscheinungen/mineralstoffmangel. [04.01.2022].
9 Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung e. V.: DGE updates reference values for sodium, chloride and potassium, https://www.dge.de/presse/pm/dge-aktualisiert-die-referenzwerte-fuer-natrium-chlorid-und-kalium. [04.01.2022].
10 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Sodium Q&A, https://www.cdc.gov/salt/sodium_QandA.htm. [04.01.2022].
11 Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung e. V.: Supplement to the position of the German Nutrition Society regarding population groups with special nutritional needs, https://www.dge.de/wissenschaft/weitere-publikationen/dge-position/vegane-ernaehrung/?L=0 [04.01.2022].