Sodium is a chemical element with the symbol Na and atomic number 11. It is a soft, silvery-white metal that is highly reactive and is never found in its elemental form in nature. Sodium is an important electrolyte and plays a critical role in maintaining fluid balance, nerve and muscle function, and blood pressure regulation in the body.
Sodium is found in many natural minerals and salts, including sodium chloride (common salt), and is widely used in the production of chemicals, such as sodium hydroxide and sodium bicarbonate, and in various industrial processes.
In the diet, sodium is most commonly consumed in the form of salt, which is a combination of sodium and chloride. The average adult needs about 1,500 to 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day to maintain good health, but many people consume much more than this, which can lead to health problems such as high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.