What is Sodium Chloride? Benefits and properties

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One of the most abundant chemical compounds worldwide is sodium chloride. Because it is present in seawater and much of the earth is covered by it. But its main virtue is not how abundant it is. It has many properties and health benefits.

In this article we will review the benefits of consuming sodium chloride for the body. We will also see if there are any risks in consuming it.

What is sodium chloride?

  • Formula: NaCl
  • Molar mass: 58.44 g/mol
  • Density: 2.16 g/cm³
  • IUPAC name: Sodium chloride
  • Melting point: 801 °C
  • Boiling point: 1,465 °C
  • Soluble in: Water, Ammonia, Ethanol, Methanol, Glycerol, Formic acid, Propylene glycol, Formamide

As its name suggests, sodium chloride results from the combination of chlorine and sodium. It is commonly known as salt. It is an ingredient in the vast majority of foods. In fact, in most cases, it is unpalatable to eat food without sodium chloride.

It has been used for hundreds of years. According to some historians, it was even used as a reward or payment for soldiers and workers in the past. In its solid state, common salt is cube-shaped. This is because sodium chloride is the union of ions, which adopt this shape when they are joined together.

Properties of sodium chloride

As a chemical compound, sodium chloride has different properties, which have been used over the years. Nutritionists highlight some of these characteristics.

  • Osmotic. It helps to eliminate viruses and most bacteria.
  • Flavoring. Although it is true that it does not have a specific flavor, it has the ability to increase the flavor of foods.
  • Antidote. It has been proven that it can eliminate the presence of silver nitrate, a toxic element for the human body.

Benefits of using sodium chloride

As more and more is known about the properties of sodium chloride, it is easier to determine its benefits for the body. In this regard, the U.S. National Library of Medicine highlights some of the beneficial effects of eating salt.

It regulates electrolytes

A low amount of electrolytes in the body is of equal risk to a high amount of electrolytes in the body. The consumption of common salt allows keeping under control the presence of these electrolytes. In the case of people suffering from dehydration, this chemical compound diluted in water is used to help a quick recovery.

Lowers blood pressure

Salt functions as a vasodilator allowing the blood to flow freely. This is essential to avoid blood pressure. It is especially recommended for people who have suffered from frequent episodes of hypertension.

Helps improve overall health

Sodium chloride helps the body to have more energy, as it allows it to obtain as many nutrients as possible from food. The same can be said of vitamins, which are better absorbed thanks to salt

It strengthens the nervous system

Sodium chloride can be found in the bones. Its function is to repair the loss of calcium suffered by the different processes of the body. In this way, the bones maintain their strength. Muscles also benefit from the consumption of common salt. Thanks to this compound, it strengthens the nervous system and the functionality of the muscles.

How is sodium chloride used?

Being an easily accessible element with excellent properties, it has been used over the centuries for different purposes. We will see some of these below.

In food

It is no secret that salt is one of the most important ingredients in food. But it is not only used for the preparation of dishes, but also in the preservation of some foods, such as meats. Because it limits the presence of water, it helps to prevent the proliferation of bacteria.

In large companies

We can highlight at least 3 ways in which companies use sodium chloride for economic benefit.

  • Manufacture of chemical products. To obtain some chemical compounds, such as sodium hydroxide, it is necessary to use a large amount of salt.
  • Leather manufacturing. To prevent bacteria from damaging the leather, salt is applied for several days.
  • Fabric manufacturing. Among other uses, it allows to better fix colors on fabrics.

In medicine

In the case of people with sodium deficiency in the body, or in those who, due to excessive sweating, lose it easily, it is necessary to administer saline solution to maintain stable levels in the body.

It is also used as an antiseptic, thanks to the fact that it eliminates the presence of bacteria and other harmful microorganisms. However, due to the intense pain it produces when applied, its use is only indicated when no other option is available

Risks of sodium chloride

Although the consumption of sodium chloride is not contraindicated for any person, it is important to keep in mind the results of different studies on the risks of ingesting salt, especially in very high amounts.

The official website of the BBC published the results of several investigations. They showed that frequent salt consumption was related to the appearance of several conditions. Among these, hypertension and stroke

In countries such as Japan and Finland, citizens were tested and found that reducing salt consumption reduced the risk of heart disease. However, as these nutritionists recognize, sodium chloride is only one of many factors to be taken into account, and more studies are needed.

On the other hand, no or minimal intake of sodium chloride could also be harmful. For this reason, Dr. Andrew Mente, a nutritional epidemiologist at a prestigious university in Canada, mentions that a middle ground must be found

If too little is consumed, it could also pose serious health risks. Sodium chloride is an indispensable ingredient for life. If used in a balanced way, multiple benefits can be obtained.

Marcel Quirós Reyes
Marcel Quirós Reyeshttps://www.google.com/search?kgmid=/g/11rclvxgrp
Dietitian and physician with a degree in medicine from the Complutense University of Madrid and a Master's degree from the Autonomous University of Madrid. Doctorate and committed to Human Health.

Aunque pueda contener afirmaciones, datos o apuntes procedentes de instituciones o profesionales sanitarios y la información contenida en PharmaSalud esté redactada por profesionales en medicina, recomendamos al lector que cualquier duda relacionada con la salud sea consultada con un profesional del ámbito sanitario.

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