What is Salt?
Salt is a mineral that is primarily composed of sodium and chloride (NaCl) that occurs naturally in many parts of the world. In its natural form as a crystalline mineral is known as rock salt or halite, it is present in vast quantities in seawater, where it is the main mineral constituent. Salt varies in color from colorless when pure, to white, gray or brownish, which is typical of rock salt.
Salt is all around us. Underground and on the earth’s surface in the dried up residues of ancient seas. Some salt has even arrived from outer space in meteors. But our biggest source of salt is in our seas and oceans. With an average of 26 million tons per cubic kilometer, sea water offers a seemingly inexhaustible supply which, if extracted, would cover the world’s total land mass to a depth of 35 meters.
There are many different types and grades of salt and a number of different methods of production. White salt is produced by evaporating ‘solution-mined’ brine in pressure vessels and the rock salt comes from mining ancient deposits, so its purity varies depending on the type of salt (evaporated, rock, solar) and on the source.
What if you don't get enough Salt?
Doctor Robert McCance (Professor of Experimental Medicine at the University of Cambridge) performed a 10 days trial experiment to determinate what would happen when the sodium levels dropped in the human body. He recruited four volunteers and desalinated them.
He started the process by getting the existing salt out of their body. Every day, the volunteers spent some times surrounded by heat lamps and research assistants. The former caused them to sweat, and the latter sponged up their drippings.
To make sure that no new salt entered their body, the volunteers ate vegetables that had been boiled three times over, specially-made bread, and synthetic milk. The food wasn't a pleasure to eat, but soon the volunteers lost all pleasure in eating. They lost their sense of taste. What few strong flavors managed to get through to them were altered enough to be repugnant. Onions tasted like sweet grease. Other foods, and cigarettes, tasted of nothing.
Eventually the volunteers became too exhausted to eat. As their sodium levels continued to drop, they could barely function due to fatigue. Although their vital signs seemed fine, their blood changed, becoming dark and sticky.
Today we know that the volunteers were suffering from Hyponatremia, a condition caused by consuming too little sodium or too much liquid in a short time (which flushes electrolytes out of our bodies). Without salt to regulate the water consumption of their cells, the cells were altering, filling with water and swelling up. The cells start to die without sodium intake.
Symptoms of Hyponatremia
Nausea and vomiting, Headache, Confusion, Loss of energy, Fatigue, Restlessness and irritability, Muscle weakness and spasms or cramps. If the condition is not treated, it might leads to death.
Salt is essential for life and as the body can not produce it itself, so it has to be provided. Without it, our bodies become chemically unbalanced, our muscles and nervous system cease to function and eventually we die.
Think about it, the body's need for salt is not hard to establish, anyone with a tongue noticed that the sweat and tears which came out of the body taste the same as the little crystals leftover when sea water evaporated. All of our body fluids are salty; blood, sweat, tears and saliva, and the general consensus among experts is that a healthy adult should aim towards a daily intake of Salt to maintain a good health.
Want To Know More?
Please continue reading about the Element of LifeSalt Myths