Body processes

Salt balance – function, task and diseases

Salt balance

Salt is the chemical name for a substance that results from the reaction of an acid with a base. There are three types of salt that are irreplaceable for human growth : magnesium chloride, potassium chloride and sodium chloride. For this reason, a healthy salt balance is irreplaceable for the body.

Salts are natural resources and have been crystallizing in the earth or extracted from the sea for millions of years. 70% of the world’s salt production comes from mines (rock salt) and salt flats (evaporated salt – from the salt bed by evaporating the water). 30% of global salt production comes from the sea. Sea salt is referred to as “fresh” salt. In contrast to rock salt, which is called “old” salt due to the long storage period.

What is the salt balance?

Our most important staple food is also called table salt or crystal salt and is formed from the combination of sodium with the gas chlorine = sodium chloride (NaCl). This salt has the taste that people refer to as salty. The commercial designations are also table or cooking salt. This is refined salt that has been cleaned and bleached. The refined salt consists of 98% sodium chloride.

Residues of chlorine and aluminum can remain in the salt, but the amounts are so small that they are not harmful to health. Anyone who switches to unrefined salt for this reason should make sure that the ingredients have been tested in order to avoid poisoning with harmful substances.

Which additives are in the salt and whether it can be left in its natural state depends on the nature of the mining area. Clay, algae, ash or gypsum as well as minerals are harmless . For example, Himalayan salt is 97% sodium chloride. The rest is made up of minerals and trace elements . With 98% sodium chloride, the refined products are only 1% poorer in minerals and trace elements.

function & task

Salt is essential to human life and is the most consumed mineral. An adult human body should have between 150 and 300 grams of salt because it keeps the body healthy. 

The components of the salt cannot be produced by the human body itself. Without the chloride, our digestion and respiration would not work. Without sodium, our organism would not be able to transport nutrients and oxygen . It ensures that nerve impulses are passed on and muscles , including the heart muscle , are activated.

At the beginning of the 19th century one could already read in scientific writings that not only blood , tears , sweat and urine contain salt, but also semen and almost every part of the human body.

Humans are made up of 70% water and electrolytes . Without water and salt, the cells could not regenerate or absorb nutrients. They would dry out and die. The concentration of the positively and negatively charged electrolytes dissolved in the water is regulated by the so-called water-electrolyte balance . This includes the absorption and release as well as the distribution of the fluid in the body.

Humans constantly lose fluids through metabolism and activities. To compensate for the loss, an adult needs at least 2.5 liters of water and 3 to 6 grams of salt every day, depending on their weight. These amounts should be taken orally in the form of beverages and food to stay healthy over the long term.

The liquid is absorbed through the intestinal wall via the digestive tract . The main part, around 60% of the liquid, is required by the cells, 30% is in the vessels and the rest in various parts of the body, such as the eye and the tear fluid .

Excretion is regulated by the kidneys and takes the form of urine, sweat, respiration, and stool . The amount depends on the climatic conditions. In the case of illness or sweaty sports, the daily loss of salt can be up to 20 grams.

Diseases & Ailments

Salt deficiency can lead to physical complaints and deficiency symptoms. In extreme cases, blood pressure drops , which can lead to death. However, due to the naturally occurring craving for salt and the fact that enough salt is available, this only happens in very rare cases. 

Conversely, excessive salt consumption was blamed for high blood pressure , but this has now been refuted by studies. Another argument against this is that excess salt leaves the body through sweating and collects in the kidneys to be excreted.

Salt as a daily food can be used excellently for the prophylaxis against diseases. Folic acid ( vitamin B9 ) is added to some types of salt. It cannot be produced by the body itself and is mainly found in green leaves (lat. folium). Adequate supply can prevent arteriosclerosis and is particularly important for women during pregnancy and after childbirth . Other ingredients can be iodine and fluorine, which can protect against iodine deficiency in the thyroid gland and against tooth decay . However, all substances should not be consumed excessively at the same time.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.