When you think of the word salt or sodium, you probably think of it in a negative light, as the dangers of excessive salt consumption have been widely publicized in health news. While it's typically more common to have too much salt rather than too little, the importance of maintaining a healthy salt balance in your body is nonetheless critical. If you've made the decision to toss out salt or ban salty foods entirely from your diet, you might want to think again. Salt, specifically with iodine, can provide a variety of positive effects and nutrients when consumed in healthy, balanced doses. Here are some key reasons why salt is needed in order to maintain great health.
1. The nutrient sodium is found in salt, and it plays a critical role in regulating the volume of blood plasma for better transport to tissues and organs.
2. The iodine content in iodized salt can encourage healthy production of the thyroid hormone.
3. Iodine deficiency is a direct contributor to hypothyroidism, or low activity of the thyroid gland; therefore, having a healthy iodine intake (which can be accomplished through iodized salt, among other sources) can help stave off problems with your thyroid, but excessive amounts can cause the opposite effect, possibly manifesting in hyperthyroidism.
4. Sodium helps regulate the functions of the nervous system including nerve signal transmissions, which allow for normal muscle and motor movement.
5. An iodine deficiency is rare, but when it occurs it can negatively impact pregnant women and their unborn children, as iodine is critical for normal, healthy fetal brain development. Having too little of this trace mineral can cause mental and/or physical impairments, including low IQ.
6. Sodium helps regulate the proper balance of water and electrolytes in your body.
7. Iodine deficiency negatively affects the thyroid, which can contribute to lethargy, foggy thinking and a lack of mental focus.
8. Sodium has a symbiotic relationship with potassium, and when your body's sodium levels go up or down, your potassium levels change to reflect the opposite. Too much sodium can cause your potassium levels to dip dangerously, and too little sodium can cause potassium to skyrocket. Potassium regulation is needed for proper cellular function.
9. Too little iodine can affect your skin, possibly causing dryness due to a lack of sweating and improper fluid balance in your body.
10. Healthy sodium levels can benefit your circulatory system by preventing blood from clotting and potentially causing serious problems.
If you regularly consume a balanced diet, it's highly unlikely you are receiving too little salt in your diet, but it is still possible. Don't attempt to add more salt to your diet without speaking with your doctor first to ensure the need for it. Too much salt can lead to hypertension, heart problems and osteoarthritis, among other health issues. Likewise, excessive iodine consumption can produce toxic results, contributing to hypo- or hyperthyroidism, stomach and mouth problems. This article is simply designed to be informative and not a recommendation to increase or decrease your salt intake.
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