Sodium works with potassium to maintain proper electrolyte balance and normal fluid levels. Together, they are essential for regulating water and electrolyte levels in the body, maintaining normal blood pressure, aiding in muscle contraction and nerve transmission, and regulating the body's acid-base balance. Sodium is also required for the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach.
Sodium is found in many foods. Plant sources include bread, salted nuts, table salt, olives, green beans, pickles, and canned tomatoes. Animal sources include bacon, beef, processed meats, canned sardines, clams, and ham.
Sodium deficiency is quite rare, as most people get plenty in foods such as table salt. The most common problem with sodium in a healthy person is too much, rather than too little. However, deficiency symptoms include muscle and stomach cramps, muscle twitching, nausea, fatigue, and loss of appetite.