Sodium: biological information
Sodium is a vital element. The human diet must contain a sensible amount of sodium. The sodium cation is the main extracellular (outside cells) cation in animals and is important for nerve function in animals.
The importance of sodium as salt in the diet was recognized well before sodium itself was understood to be an element. This recognition formed the basis of trading of salt deposits lining the Dead Sea in biblical times by the Romans. Prolonged sweating results in sodium ion loss in sweat and it is most important that the sodium ion is replaced through proper diet.
Levels in humans
- Human abundance by weight: 1400000 ppb by weight
- Human abundance by atoms: 380000 atoms relative to C = 1000000
How much sodium is in your body? Find out here.
You can use this form to calculate how much sodium your body contains. Enter your weight in either kilograms or pounds and click the "Calculate" button. You must enter a number, not text! Elements for which there are no data will always give a value of zero for the weight, no matter what you put in the weight box.
Hazards and Risks
Hazards and risks associated with sodium:
Sodium metal is a major fire risk. Sodium compounds are relatively harmless as long they are as not ingested in excess. This includes common salt, NaCl. People with heart diseases may need to ensure their diet does not contain too much sodium.
- J.E. Huheey, E.A. Keiter, and R.L. Keiter in Inorganic Chemistry : Principles of Structure and Reactivity, 4th edition, HarperCollins, New York, USA, 1993.
- S. Budavari (Ed.) in The Merck Index, 11th ed., Merck, USA, 1989.
- N.N. Greenwood and A. Earnshaw in Chemistry of the Elements, 2nd edition, Butterworth, UK, 1997.