However, growing up, I'm sure you've heard one too many times that salt can be bad and lead to things like hypertension, high blood pressure, water retention, and even kidney issues down the line. While that may be true in severe cases where the body is incapable of regulating its levels of hydration, sodium is not bad for us and, in fact, extremely important for more than just making things taste good.
Sodium is considered the main mineral of solubility, right next to potassium, meaning it helps dissolve compounds made up of minerals and is found extracellularly. This is important to note, for when we look to our Na:K ratio on an HTMA, we are peeking into how well the electrical charge is within the cell membrane. This ratio is recognized as the "vitality ratio" or even "life and death ratio", for when it is elevated, it is associated with a lot of inflammation and acute stress, where as if low, the body is in a state of extreme exhaustion and chronic stress.
This brings us to one of the most important functions of sodium, and that is the role it plays within the adrenals. This mineral is regulated by the stress response our adrenals give out and offers us an understanding on what type of state of stress our body is under as mentioned above. This could then be correlated to symptoms in which sodium has been recognized to worsen such as high blood pressure or water retention. When it is high, the symptoms that come with high sodium is a result of a stressor that needs to be discovered. The symptom is never the answer, hence your salt intake is not the cause of your high blood pressure or cardiovascular issues. In fact, it's a reflection of the stress response your body is giving out.
Furthermore, it's also an alkalizing mineral helping the body exchange nutrients between blood and interstitial fluid, regulating pH levels, and even producing stomach acidity as sodium chloride can be transformed into hydrochloric acid.
So what does this mean and how do we interpret sodium on an HTMA? Glad you asked.
First, let's break down a bit of the energetics of this mineral so you can understand a bit of why it influences people in a certain way depending on its levels on a test.
With every HTMA ratio we can see on a test, such as our Ca:P ratio, Ca:Mg, Zn:Cu, there is always a masculine and feminine energetic component to it. Just like yin and yang. Sodium represents the masculine energy in its ratios such as Na:K or Na:Mg. Sodium exudes masculine energy because of the force and energy it provides when present at normal or even high levels. We can see as a pattern that those with high Na levels on their HTMA can come off a bit frustrated, angry and forceful. There are even instances where one feels very inflamed and even hot to touch, both physically and emotionally. It's a stimulating mineral, driving not just the stress response in the adrenals but also the metabolism, which makes sense considering both babies and men tend to naturally have higher sodium levels on an HTMA and faster metabolisms in general.
Ideally we want our Na levels to exclusively be between a 9mg%-28mg% if using the laboratory Trace Elements Inc. It is still acceptable to have a level as low as 3mg% or as high as 34mg% depending on the context, but it's always important to look at the entire test, how a client is feeling, their current life situation, health condition, etc.
That being said, either end of the spectrum, whether it be high or low, offers insight on as to what could be happening in the body.
When the Na level is high on an HTMA, this could be a sign of a few things:
- There is an elevated level of aldosterone secretion coming from the adrenal glands as a result of acute stress or intense feelings of anger, frustration or fear that is prolonged.
- An individual's metabolism is stuck in "fight" mode, where the body is burning through energy too quickly to preserve and store in tissues for later, essentially being catabolic.
- Potential kidney infection.
- Extremely low levels of calcium or magnesium, for they are antagonistic to each other, thus can show up as anxiety or fear (and high levels of sodium burns through these minerals)
- An excess amount of supplementation or elevated levels of the following nutrients: potassium, manganese, chromium, and vitamins B, C and E.
- Heavy metal toxicity, particularly cadmium.
On the flip side, low levels of Na are a sign of:
- Chronic stress where the stress response can no longer be activated. The body is officially depleted and has no energy to provide a signal for help.
- Adrenal burn out.
- Low salt diet.
- Depression or a sense of loss.
- Inability to digest food, particularly proteins.
- Excess supplementation of calcium or magnesium supplements, and high levels of potassium on an HTMA because of the change of oxidation in the metabolism. Note here that potassium can both antagonize and synergize sodium.
All in all, as you can see, sodium is not a dangerous mineral as we're led to believe and in fact vital for proper adrenal function, digestion, energy levels and so much more as we discussed today.
Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis Practitioner
Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner
Integrative Health Coach