Chloride is an important mineral which along with potassium and sodium helps to maintain a balanced level of fluids in your body. This major mineral works by sustaining the amount of fluid outside of the cells in our body. The cells lining the stomach require chloride for making hydrochloric acid (HCl). Hydrochloric acid is a vital constituent of the juices secreted in the stomach.
Basically speaking, chloride is a form of electrolyte that works in tandem with potassium and sodium. It is mainly present in the body fluids that surround the cells. This chloride together with other electrolytes work to aid in regulating the fluids inside the body and, at the same time, it also helps to sustain electrolyte balance within the body.
Since neutral pH is preferred by our body, chloride facilitates in maintaining this neutrality as it reduces the levels of acid in our body. In fact, chlorides serve in the form of neutralizing agents and they work to restore the acid-alkaline balance within the body.
Inside the human stomach, chloride is present as hydrochloric acid. Hydrochloric acid plays a vital role in the digestive process, as it facilitates in breaking down the ingested foods into simpler substances, which our small intestines can take up gradually.
Within the liver, chloride may even aid in the process involved in getting rid of waste and toxic substances.
Chloride forms a very small percentage (roughly 0.14 per cent) of our body weight. The body of an average adult contains about 115 grams of chloride and it is primarily present along with sodium in the fluid that surrounds the cells. However, some chloride (about 15 per cent of the total content in the body) is also found within the cells. The maximum amount of chloride is found in the red blood cells (erythrocytes). Some amount of chloride may also be found in our bones.
Since chloride is easily available in most foods we consume, deficiency of this mineral rarely occurs. By volume, both table salt as well as sea salt contains 40 per cent of chloride. Hence, it is natural that you will be ingesting chloride each time you add any of these salts to your foods. This is also true when you consume foods prepared using salts.
In fact, chloride is also used as a salt substitute. In such cases, sodium chloride is simply replaced in food products with potassium chloride. This is primarily owing to the reason that in some people, sodium has been associated with high blood pressure (hypertension) as well as various other cardiovascular diseases.
Aside from table salt and sea salt, it has been found that majority of the vegetables, including celery, lettuce, tomatoes and seaweeds are excellent sources of chloride. Nevertheless, most of the chloride we ingest is from table salt. Our intestines are able to absorb this mineral easily and it is flushed out via the kidneys through a delicate mechanism that controls the balance between acid and alkaline. This is done by either eliminating or retaining chloride in our body.
Chloride is present in nearly all food items, especially which require adding salt during the cooking or processing. Some food preparations require adding large amounts of salt.
Some foods that contain elevated levels of chloride include sea salt (also known as sodium chloride), table salt, salt substitutes like potassium chloride, olives, seaweeds (like kelp and dulse) and rye. Even vegetables such as lettuce, celery and tomatoes and preserved meats like ham, bacon, sausages, and canned or processed fast foods contain chloride.
Aside from the above mentioned foods, there are other sources of chloride from foods. These include cheese, and yeast extract. In fact, potassium chloride is present in most of these foods. Processed foods contain abundance of chloride as elevated amounts of preservatives are required to ensure that these foods remain fresh for a prolonged period of time.
In recent times, there has been numerous television advertisements suggesting that we need to reduce our salt intake as ingestion of elevated amounts of salt may lead to several health issues. This is primarily owing to the fact that many people consume salt in excessive amounts. Nevertheless, salt is essential for our body. Hence, we need to ensure that our intake of chloride is sufficient.
The requirement for chloride is same for both men and women, but the need may differ according to one's age. The chloride intake recommendations do not alter even when a woman is pregnant or for nursing mothers.
Taking chloride in adequate amounts (as per recommendations) according to different age groups will help to cover all the requirements of every individual in maintaining an optimum acid-alkali balance in the body. However, people enduring any health issues must necessarily check with their physician or healthcare provider regarding their diet. The physician will be able to tell you if there is any reason for concern regarding your regular intake of chloride.
There has been a lot of bad publicity regarding the use of salt and this is why that many people are of the view that our body does not require salt. Therefore, rather than decreasing the intake of salt, such people have completely eliminated salt from their food. This is really unfortunate.
If you experience low blood pressure or generally feel weak, you should know that these are some of the symptoms associated with chloride deficiency. When the level of chloride drops in the system, it automatically results in loss of potassium from the body through urination. If the acid level in the body drops too low it may result in a medical condition called alkalosis. This condition is a serious one and it results in elevated blood pH.
If your salt intake is less than normal and you are not consuming sufficient potassium or chloride you are most likely to develop a medical condition called hypokalemic metabolic alkalosis. The symptoms of this condition make the affected individual unable to regulate the functioning of their muscles. In turn, loss of one aptitude to control muscle functioning may result in other problems such as breathing troubles and difficulties in swallowing. If this condition is not treated timely, it may even lead to death of the affected person. It is very important to learn about the various aspects of good health, particularly if one desires to develop healthy muscles quickly.
In case one has suffered a severe diarrheal attack, excessive loss of body fluids owing to profuse perspiration, serious bouts of vomiting or has used excessive diuretics, the person is likely to experience chloride deficiency. Several athletes regularly use salt supplements and drink lots of water to compensate for sweating, as it can help to dilute the remaining salt in the body. In addition, exercising results in the excretion of salt through sweat. Hence, it is vital that you replace the lost salt to maintain fluid balance inside your body.
Our body may suffer from deficiency of chloride when it loses excessive fluids due to diarrhea, profuse perspiration and even vomiting. In addition, as mentioned above, use of specific drugs, such as diuretics, may also result in the body to lose too much fluid. As a result there can be a deficiency of chloride in your body.
Intake of excessive chloride may prove to be detrimental for your health, as it works to raise the blood pressure levels. In fact, people suffering from congestive heart disease ought to be all the more cautious about their chloride intake, as it can lead to fluid build up in their body. The Institute of Medicine recommends intake of a maximum 3.6 grams of chloride every day for adults. This is the tolerable upper limit for intake of this substance for an adult. Precisely speaking, tolerable upper limit denotes the maximum amount of any substance that a person can intake daily without suffering any adverse side effects.
Even if you endure chloride deficiency, it is not advisable to use chloride in the form of a dietary supplement. In fact, the foods consumed by us provide us sufficient amount of chloride.