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Sodium: A Word of Caution

Sodium: A Word of Caution

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Sodium is a popular additive in food, found mostly in frozen and fast food products. For some people (especially college students) it can be hard to maintain a healthy sodium level when these types of meals are so simple and convenient. It's easy to overlook the nutrition facts, but it may cost you in the future.

The medical consensus forsodium intake is 2,400 mg daily for an adult. This sounds like an easy number to avoid capping, but when you look at processed foods, you'll see that one meal can be 30 or 40% percent of the daily value, so it can add up quickly.

A balancing act

Sodium is not bad for our bodies. We need it for maintaining proper fluid balances, helping muscle relaxations/contractions, and allowing nerves to communicate with one another. Regulation of the sodium levels in your body is performed by the kidneys.

  • If sodium level is low, the kidneys store it
  • If sodium level is high, the kidneys expel some through urine

The problem is that if the kidneys cannot expel sodium quick enough, it begins to backup into the bloodstream where it collects water molecules, causing it to expand. This increases the overall volume of the blood; now the heart must work harder to push this expanded blood through the blood vessels. This can lead to diseases such as congestive heart failure, cirrhosis, or kidney disease.

As with most things, moderation is key, so just be sure to watch your intake if you're one of the people relying on quick meals to get through the day.

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