Sodium Chloride Balance and Salt Balance
Salt is vital to life. Salt (sodium chloride) courses constantly through our circulatory system. A shortage of this essential nutrient can cause serious health risks, even death.
Our most important electrolyte, the natural mineral salt is necessary to maintain the critical osmotic balance in human cells. Sodium is essential to transmission of nerve impulses signaling the heart muscle to contract. Sodium helps regulate human hydration, pH levels and the absorption of other nutrients. Chloride helps digestion, including potassium absorption. Chloride enables the blood to carry carbon dioxide from tissue to the lungs. When the immune system is under attack, chloride fights infections.
Salt is natural—and so is our need and desire for it.
The body cannot produce its own sodium or chloride, yet all human fluids contain (and need) salt, including blood, sweat, tears and digestive juices.
The body regulates the amount of salt we consume based on our individual needs. Salt intake levels are determined in the brain. Our cerebral cortex senses each person’s needs and creates an appetite that is more powerful than an individual’s conscious choice.
Thirst, for instance, is a signal that our bodies need water to help balance the salt we have consumed. A craving for salt reflects a healthy need. When healthy, our bodies are able to use the amount of salt they need, and expel any excess by processing through the kidneys.
Salt is an ingredient; sodium and chloride are nutrients.
Salt and sodium are sometimes confused. Salt is an ingredient while sodium and chloride are the actual nutrients. Salt is not the only source of either sodium or chloride. Sodium is found in many plant and animal based foods. Chloride is also found in many vegetables. Some foods with higher amounts of chloride include seaweed, rye, tomatoes, lettuce, celery, and olives. Potassium chloride is found in most foods.