The primary role of salt, or sodium chloride (NaCl), is being involved in the control of extracellular fluid volume and maintain the acid-base balance.
Salt participates in the conduction of nerve stimuli and helps control muscle spasms. It also helps in the transport of nutrients to the body’s cells.
Deficiency of sodium (hyponatremia) can lead to dehydration, drop in blood pressure and headaches.
Some deficiencies may be the caused by excessive excretion: i.e. sweat after increased physical activity or abnormal renal function, use of diuretics, or after vomiting or diarrhea.
A much more serious health concern is excessive sodium intake, which can lead to hypertension, or the development of cardiovascular and renal diseases.
Nutritionists estimate the daily requirement of sodium chloride at 5 g – that is one teaspoon.
Cold meats, yellow cheeses, bread, ready-made meals and canned products (salt is an excellent preservative) are some of the foods that contain the most amounts of salt and should therefore be avoided, if possible.
Also to be used with moderation are ready-made spice mixes, stock cubes, seasoning liquid or marinades. These products are real salt mines.