The substance sodium – probably better known by many as the most important substance in common kitchen salt – has recently come back a lot in all sorts of nutritional advice. In general, the advice is to eat as little as possible of it, because an excess of sodium can have all kinds of nasty consequences, such as high blood pressure and fluid accumulations in the body.
Yet the opposite problem – a sodium deficiency – is certainly no fun either. Do you want to know if there is a chance that you have a sodium deficiency, or wonder what the symptoms are? Here we put all the information for you under each other.
With all the warnings against excessive salt use, you would almost forget that sodium does indeed play an important role in the body, for example in the nervous system and in regulating your fluid balance. Sodium together with potassium ensure that the electrical signals in the nerves can be properly transmitted.
This allows the brain and muscles to communicate well – something that is essential, for example, if you want to be able to move properly . Furthermore, sodium attracts moisture, so you retain enough fluid in your body, and it also ensures that your blood pressure remains stable in the right amounts.
If you have too little sodium in your body, it can have various causes. One of the most common reasons is illness: if you vomit or sweat a lot , or if you suffer from diarrhea , it can result in you excreting too much sodium, which leads to deficiencies.
People with type 2 diabetes also sometimes suffer from a sodium deficiency, and the same applies to people with overactive kidneys who are no longer able to filter sodium out of urine . In all these cases, a (too) low-salt diet often contributes to the problem.
Consequences of sodium deficiency
The symptoms of a sodium deficiency can vary greatly in severity, but they are annoying in any case. The reduced communication between the muscles and the brain ensures that your movements no longer always correspond to what your brain was planning, with dizziness as a result.
Cognitive processes in the brain can also be disrupted, causing you to babble. In severe cases, reduced muscle control can even affect the lungs or heart, bringing breathing or heartbeat to a halt – something that can even have fatal consequences if it happens acute.