Sodium is most commonly found in food as salt (sodium chloride). A small amount of sodium is required by the body as it plays an essential role in keeping the fluids and electrolytes in our bodies balanced.

This is important when we exercise and sodium is lost through sweating. However, too much salt in our diet is associated with an increased risk of raised blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. Higher sodium intakes have been shown to increase calcium losses in the urine, potentially increasing the risk of osteoporosis.

Sodium is both an electrolyte and mineral. It helps keep the water (the amount of fluid inside and outside the body's cells) and electrolyte balance of the body. Sodium is also important in how nerves and muscles work.