Table salt (sodium chloride; NaCl) is the most common form of dietary sodium. Other sodium salts exist in the diet, including sodium bicarbonate (baking soda; NaHCO3) and sodium acetate. Sodium is necessary for the function of nerves and muscles, as well as for fluid and electrolyte balance.
In adults, the adequate intake (AI) of sodium is 1.5 grams daily, with a tolerable upper limit (UL) of 2.3 grams daily. Most individuals in North America consume sodium at levels much higher than recommended. Many experts believe that increased salt consumption is a risk factor for the development of high blood pressure. Too much sodium may also contribute to heart disease (stroke, heart failure), kidney disease, osteoporosis, and stomach cancer.
Sodium chloride and other sodium-containing salts may be taken by mouth or injected into the veins to correct electrolyte imbalance. Sodium chloride is also used to help some medicines dissolve in water and as a priming agent for hemodialysis. Baking soda may be used to evaluate parathyroid gland function in people with a specific chromosome disorder (22q11.2 deletion). Concentrated sodium chloride solutions may be inhaled by people with cystic fibrosis to reduce lung complications.
Sodium chloride may improve the taste of foods, and it is commonly added to many dishes. However, sodium may increase the risk of high blood pressure in individuals who are genetically susceptible to this condition. Therefore, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that people "reduce intake to 1,500mg" among persons at risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, or kidney disease.
Sodium bicarbonate has been used to treat bleeding gums, sore throats, cankers, mouth sores, and heartburn.
Sodium chloride is used to prevent or treat muscle cramps, fatigue, and other symptoms of perspiration caused by the loss of sodium from sweating.
You should read product labels, and discuss all therapies with a qualified healthcare provider. Natural Standard information does not constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
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