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Sodium, potassium and chlorine: essential for our body

In other articles we have already told you about the functions of minerals such as calcium , iron , magnesium and phosphorus and this time we want to discover why sodium (Na), potassium (K) and chlorine (Cl).

They are essential for our body to carry out its functions normally due to the processes of our body in which they participate. You will also know what foods they are in and the recommended amounts.

Sodium, potassium, chlorine … What are they?

It is about electrolytes, that is to say, of strawberry minerals that in our organism are dissolved in water as ions.

Sodium is found in its natural state in sea salt (sodium chloride, NaCl). It is a very reactive metal, especially with water, it is alkaline, silvery and soft.

Potassium, another metal reactive to water, alkaline, silver and soft like sodium, is the most abundant mineral in our body and the largest molecule found in the intracellular fluid of our body. Potassium is a macromineral that is stored in muscles.

Chlorine, however, is a gas in a natural state but combined with other chemical elements found in nature, sodium chloride (common table salt) and chlorates are obtained.

 

What functions do they have in the body?

The three elements participate in the regulation of the osmotic balance (pressure and concentration of substances inside and outside the cell) of our body. But they also intervene in many other reactions that take place in our body, highlighting:

Sodium functions

  • Sodium is part of bone tissue (bones)
  • Collaborates in the transmission of the nerve impulse
  • Participates in the regulation of blood pressure
  • Intervenes in muscle contraction
  • It has an important role in the absorption of nutrients by the membrane

Potassium functions

  • Potassium is involved in the contraction of the heart muscle.
  • Collaborates in nerve transmission
  • It is found forming part of the structure of the bones
  • Participates in the synthesis or creation of proteins from amino acids
  • Contributes to carbohydrate metabolism

Chlorine functions

  • Chlorine participates in the elimination of toxins from the liver
  • Found in hydrochloric acid in the stomach to aid digestion
  • Collaborate in the transport of carbon dioxide
  • Participates in the digestion of lipids (fats)
  • Contributes to the formation of cerebrospinal fluid

What foods are these nutrients in?

Foods that provide us with sodium

Among the foods with the highest sodium content we have:

  • Shellfish
  • Sole
  • Sardines
  • Anchovies
  • Cheeses
  • Chard
  • Celery
  • Spinach
  • Carrot
  • Asparagus

foods with sodium

The high sodium intake comes hand in hand with the intake of ultra-processed products, which are high in salt. If we avoid or reduce the consumption of junk or junk food and base our diet on fresh foods (fruits, vegetables, legumes, etc.) we will be ingesting adequate amounts of sodium and taking care of our health.

Foods that provide us with potassium

Among the foods with the highest potassium content we find:

  • Textured soybeans
  • Kidney beans or black beans
  • Pistachios
  • Plain yogurt
  • Sweet potato
  • Avocado
  • Watermelon
  • Thistle
  • Spinach
  • Salmon
  • Potato
  • Chanterelles
  • Banana

potassium foods

In general, vegetables and fruits, legumes, dried fruits, mushrooms and cereals contain good amounts of potassium.

Foods that give us chlorine

We find it in common salt, in water and in foods such as:

  • Olives
  • Algae
  • Watercress
  • Cauliflower
  • Whole wheat

chlorinated foods

In what quantity should we consume them?

Sodium

In people with normal physical activity, the minimum daily amount of sodium to consume , which is between 200 and 500 milligrams, can be easily reached.

The maximum daily amount of sodium should not exceed 2400 milligrams as it could cause ailments such as hypertension , fluid retention , irritability and overload on the kidneys.

In athletes, during continuous episodes of diarrhea and vomiting, people who consume diuretics and people with a lot of sweating, sodium deficiency can occur and this can cause hypotension, dizziness and dehydration.

Potassium

The minimum amount to consume of potassium is specified in 2000 milligrams during the adult age.

During the growth stages, in people who take diuretics and during episodes of diarrhea and vomiting, this daily minimum is raised to 3,500 milligrams.

When there is a lack of potassium in the body (something that is usually rare), symptoms such as hypotension, dehydration, great thirst, cramps, muscle weakness, constipation , rapid heartbeat and even vomiting, diarrhea and lack of appetite occur .

On the contrary, in cases of hyperkalemia (high levels of potassium in the blood), symptoms such as arrhythmias, numbness in the extremities, and even heart failure can be differentiated. Sugar, alcohol, coffee and tea cause the excretion of potassium in the blood.

Chlorine

In the case of chlorine, there are recommendations to consume a minimum daily amount of chlorine of 3,000 to 5,000 milligrams and a maximum daily amount of chlorine of 7,500 milligrams.

The lack of chlorine in our body could cause apathy, anorexia and asthenia.

In contrast, hyperchloremia causes symptoms such as severe constipation, drowsiness, vomiting, and diarrhea.

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