Sodium has a strong reputation for causing life-threatening high blood pressure, but it is actually essential for good health. Sodium helps carry nutrients into the cells, distributes water throughout the body, stimulates the adrenal glands, and maintains healthy blood pressure levels. It also plays a role in nerve communication and muscle contraction, including the heart muscle. Natural salts are necessary for the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, which is important for proper digestion.

Not all sodium is the same. Common table salt and the sodium found in most processed foods are refined and chemically-cleansed and bear little resemblance to the mineral rich natural sodium found in salt waters and organic produce.

In addition to using the wrong kind of salt, most people on the standard American diet consume way too much sodium, since fast food and ready-made meals are loaded with salt.

Very few people in Western countries are at risk of deficiency. A sodium deficiency is more likely after heavy perspiration. Symptoms may include weakness, apathy, nausea, and muscle cramps in the arms and legs. In rare cases, it can lead to shock caused by lowered blood pressure. For this reason, the list of foods below includes just a few healthy sources of natural sodium.

Hypertension or high blood pressure, is the most common symptom of regular excess sodium intake. Too much sodium can also lead to puffiness under the eyes.

US Recommended Daily Allowance: 2700 mg

Health Benefits of Sodium

Blood Pressure Helps maintain healthy blood pressure levels. Excess salt leads to high blood pressure. Salt deficiency can cause low blood pressure, sometimes resulting in shock.
Eyes/Vision Helps relieve dark circles under the eyes, caused by too much potassium. Too much sodium can lead to puffiness.
Heart Helps maintain the heart beat.
Hydrochloric Acid Natural salts are required for production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach.
Nerves Plays a role in nerve communication.

Food Sources of Sodium

Sea Salt 460 mg 17% A natural mineral-rich alternative to regular table salt.
Celery 80.8 mg 3% Adds a natural salty flavor to soups and salads.
Black Olives N/A N/A
Kelp N/A N/A Natural sea salts in sea vegetables are rich in minerals.
Leafy Greens - General N/A N/A