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About Sodium and Water
Sodium in Our World
    I    Sodium In Softened Water    I    Sodium Restricted Diets

Sodium In Nature

The sodium ion, being the sixth most abundant metallic ion in the earth's crust, is a natural constituent of both food and water. In nature we find sodium in water from several sources. These are:
  • Underground sodium salt deposits which are dissolved by water
  • Sea water
  • Natural ion exchange in soils where calcium ions in the water are replaced with sodium ions
Sodium occurs naturally in foods because plants take up sodium from the soil water, and animals ingest plants and water containing sodium.

Sodium Added By Man To Water

Man adds sodium to food and water in various ways. Sodium is added to water during the following processes:
  • Water purification and bacterial control in water supplies are accomplished by adding sodium hypochlorite
  • The lime-soda method of softening water in municipal water treatment plants requires the addition of sodium compounds such as sodium carbonate
  • Home water softeners exchange calcium ions for sodium ions by using cation exchange resins

Sodium Added To Food

Man adds sodium to food for a variety of reasons. Sodium compounds are added to improve the flavor of many foods. For example:
  • Sodium chloride (salt) and monosodium glutamate (MSG, Accent, etc.) are used by com­mercial food processors in bacon, salted crackers, olives, soups, sauces, and almost all convenience foods such as frozen dinners and packaged mixes. These two products are also ad­ded by the homemaker in home food preparation.
  • Sodium compounds are also used to improve the tex­ture of some foods.
  • Sodium bicarbonate in baking soda and baking powder makes baked goods rise.
  • Sodium alginate is used in chocolate milk and ice creams to improve their texture.
  • Sodium hydroxide is used to soften the skins of olives, certain fruits and grains.
  • Sodium compounds are used to preserve some foods. Sodium benzoate is used in jellies, relishes, and salad dressings.
  • Sodium propionate is used to inhibit mold growth in cheeses and bread

Sodium Added To Medication

Sodium compounds are also used in many common medications such as baking soda (home remedy for indigestion), and sodium compounds are used in many alkalizers and antiacids as well as many headache remedies, sedatives, and cathartics.

Normal Sodium Consumption

It is estimated that the average person consumes the equivalent of 2 to 3 teaspoons of salt per day from all sources. This is about 8 to 15 grams. Some of this salt is in the food naturally, but most of it is added in processing, preservation, cooking, and at the table. A salt (sodium chloride) intake of 8 to 15 grams is equal to about 3 to 6 grams (3,000 to 6,000 milligrams) of sodium.


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