"Organic sodium"

During a conversation with some “raw food” vegans tonight, the claim arose that the body cannot process inorganic sodium such as table salt, only organic sodium which is found in foods such as celery (and, no doubt, sold at the type of health food stores that carry the books making this claim). I did a Google search, and the only sites that even mentioned “organic sodium” were health food stores and vegan manifestos.

Now, I took high school chemistry, and I know that “organic” is a term that describes compounds, not elements, and sodium is an element. And I always thought sodium chloride was a vital nutrient, hence the practice of giving salt licks to animals.

Is there any truth to this claim? And what exactly is the organic substance they’re talking about?

like many health food claims it is utter rubbish, Sodium in its common form is in ions, whether you get it in salt, celery whatever. It is exactly the same. (Ironically, what I would as a chemist call organic sodium (methylsodium or similar) is highly dangerous and corrosive)

So if the body cannot process inorganic sodium, there should be no problem sprinkling as much NaCl as I’d like on my food, right? :D:D

You know, I really hate this sort of shit too. Being vegan or vegetarian is a personal choice which should be respected; spreading junk-science propaganda should not be.

I don’t know what they could be talking about, and I have had no luck the Google searches either.

I am not a nutrition expert but there is truth to it. What they mean by organic is Sodium Salts of Organic Acids. I have a quote here for Calcium Citrate ("An organic salt ") being absorbed far better (more than twice) than Calcium Carbonate (“An Inorganic salt”) http://www.wholehealthmd.com/news/viewarticle/0,1513,741,00.html

andy_fl - I see what you are saying, and what you are reading from the link you provided. I do wonder if the absorption rates of Calcium and Sodium can be assumed to be equivalent. I also wonder about the long-term absorption, as the calcium passes throught the digestive tract - what I mean is, is 8 hours enough to run its course? Could more total calcium be absorbed over the course of life of the calcium in the body?

I’m not saying it is, just speculating here a bit.

Yes Organic Salts are better when regulating the Sodium/Calcium levels in the body. Here is a quote for Sodium Citrate regulating the Sodium uptake - and its a PATENT BY NASA for a Rehydration Beverage .

Quote from the link - ** . The specific ratio of sodium chloride to sodium citrate dissolved in water avoid introduction of excessive levels of sodium ions into the body. **


It is utter rubbish. Calcium is a different story all together. Calcium salts are not typically soluble in aqueous solution. When the calcium is bound to an organic base such as the citrate anion, it has a fighting chance of being absorbed into the lipid bilayers. The study shown in this link is laughable. Calcium carbonate is a mineral. It is a major component of limestone, it is used in cement. In other words, the people taking calcium carbonate pills were eating rocks. No knowledgable chemist would actually take up that study.

As for the study on organic sodium, it may speed its absorption into your body, which would make controlling internal sodium concentrations easier, but unless you eat a whole lot of sodium chloride and are very dehydrated, every bit of sodium you eat eventually gets into your system.

Oh yeah, lololololol on that calcium study. Maybe I could chop up some granite and sell it as an “all-natural” multi-vitamin that supplies your body with iron, magnesium, manganese, and calcium.

No, they are entirely different beasts. Most inorganic Sodium salts are soluble, while many inorganic Calcium salts are not; e.g. carbonate, sulphate, phosphate. While calcium chloride is soluble, the carbonates and other ions present in the stomach keeps the concentration of soluble Calcium down, limiting absorption. The same can emphatically not be said for sodium. This presents a problem for Calcium absorption throughout the digestive tract. Organic salts of Ca, which are soluble but do not readily ionize, are more readily absorbed than the inorganic salts which, lacking solubility, remain in bulk, solid form. Organic salts of sodium give no real advantage over inorganic salts since both the organic and inorganic forms are readily soluble. That said, certain organic anions are selectively absorbed by the gut, and the presence of these anions will speed the absorption of any anion that happens to be bound to it during uptake.

In any case, there is no such thing as “organic sodium” and anyone who uses the term should have her high school diploma taken away.

There are some organic sodium reagents just like the Grignard reagents. An example will be Sodium Naphthalide. Sodium dissolved in mineral oil is also sometimes referred to as organic sodium in organometalic chemistry.

We can disagree about the facts without getting personal.


Thanks for your replies. Could I get some clarification on a couple points?
[li]Sodium from NaCl will be absorbed, but sodium in an organic compound may be absorbed more quickly?[/li][li]There have not been any negative health effects found from NaCl, as compared to other sources of sodium?[/li][/ul]

Sodium from NaCl will get absorbed because your body is mostly water and sodium chloride is very soluble in water; however, in order for Sodium ions to get from your stomach to the rest of your body it must get absorbed through your stomach lining which is largely organic. Attatching the sodium to something organic (carbon based) as in sodium citrate can help carry it through these things. It may act as a sort of phase transfer catalyst.

It is only a guess however. I am not a biochemist, and have no real idea. Even when the sodium ion is dissolved as sodium citrate, it would not be closely associated with the citrate ion in an aqueous solution. The citrate could act as a carrier when going through the stomach lining though.

I guess the bottom line is, that in my opinion, there is no need for your average person to be concerned about the type of sodium they ingest. It will all pretty much behave the same.

Major mistake on that Calcium thing though. Yes Calcium Carbonate is in limestone, but I just remembered Calcium Carbonate is what TUMS is. I don’t know what happens to the calcium in TUMS when it is absorbed. It is possible it picks up a chloride anion and percipitates out as Calcium Chloride.

Nevertheless, the point is that Calcium and Sodium have entirely different characteristics. Calcium is relatively insoluble in water. This is why it percipitates out on riverbeds and in caves to make calcium carbonate deposites, which are for all practical purposes, rocks. When it is ground up and dissolved in an acidic environment like your stomach, there may be some increased solubility, but probably not enough for adequate absorption.

To clarify. Any edible sodium salt dissociates in aqueous solution (e.g., in your innards) into sodium ions and cations from the acid component of the salt (e.g., chloride, carbonate, citrate, or whatever). Unless I am grieviously mistaken, the absorbtion (and expulsion) of sodium ions from the cells of the intestines is controlled by mechanisms in the cell membrane and depends on various factors, none of which is the form in which the individual sodium atom was ingested. Does anyone know of any mechanism by which non-ionized sodium can pass through a cell membrane?

andy_fl, thanks. I was thinking of food consituents, not Grignard reagents or sodium dissolved in mineral oil. My mistake.

CORRECTION OF PREVIOUS POST: The first sentence should read: “Any edible sodium salt dissociates in aqueous solution (e.g., in your innards) into sodium ions and anions from the acid component of the salt…”

Both are absorbed but Organic Salts of Sodium - Citrates,Oxalates are better chelating agents. (http://www.scpt.com/bloodcollection.html) Look at that link and you will see what Sodium Citrate and Oxalate do when they come in contact with blood.
There have not been any negative health effects found from NaCl, as compared to other sources of sodium?
There have been studies where Sodium CItrate has reversed the bad effects of Sodium Chloride. FOr more information read - Kurtz, Theodore W., et al. “Salt-sensitive” essential hypertension in men. The New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 317, No. 17, October 29, 1988, pp. 1043-48

An quote from the above journal paper :
“SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA. An experiment was carried out to determine if administration by ingestion of extra sodium chloride (240 mmol of sodium per day) would increase blood pressure in 5 males who suffered from hypertension. The blood pressure of the participants had been kept in the normal range prior to the experiment through restriction of dietary sodium intake to 10 mmol/day (0.23 g of sodium). The average systolic pressure went from 126±4 mm Hg to 142±4 mm Hg and the average diastolic pressure went from 76±2 mm Hg to 84±4 mm Hg after about 3 days of consuming the extra salt (5.5 g/day) in the form of capsules. Changing the content of the capsules to dextrose (placebo) or sodium citrate (240 mmol of sodium/day) reversed the increase caused by the sodium chloride. Thus it would appear, from this limited experiment, that not all sodium salts cause an increase in blood pressure and that the chloride ion may play an important role. Administration of extra sodium chloride increased plasma volume and calcium excretion whereas extra intake of sodium citrate did not. Both salts induced comparable sodium retention, weight gain, and suppression of plasma renin activity and plasma aldosterone.”

“There have been studies where Sodium CItrate has reversed the bad effects of Sodium Chloride.”

That’s not quite correct. What Kurtz found was that some people with salt-sensitive hypertension experienced blood pressure increases when given large amounts of sodium chloride but not when given large amounts of sodium citrate. The literature shows that, in general, sodium chloride increases blood pressure more than other sodium salts. It wasn’t the citrate reversing anything. The only thing special about the citrate was that it was not chloride. It doesn’t seem to make any difference what you replace the chloride with, an organic anion such as citrate or a an absolutely-no-way-on-earth-can-you-call-it-organic acid such as phosphate. “Organic” has nothing to do with it.

But when one is concerned about health, just looking at whether sodium is consumed as sodium chloride or sodium citrate is myopic. You need to think holistically. It’s the whole diet that is important. The Kotchens reviewed data on the salt sensitivity of blood pressure and wrote:

“In several experimental models of salt-sensitive hypertension and in humans, blood pressure is not increased by a high sodium intake provided with anions other than chloride. Salt-induced increase of blood pressure depends on the concomitant ingestion of both sodium and chloride. Both epidemiologic and clinical evidence suggest that sodium chloride-induced increases of blood pressure are augmented by diets deficient in potassium or calcium. In experimental animals, a high intake of simple carbohydrates also augments sodium chloride sensitivity of blood pressure. These observations indicate that the effect of dietary sodium on blood pressure is modulated by other components of the diet.” Am J Clin Nutr 1997 Feb;65(2 Suppl):708S-711S

Just to clarify the term ‘organic’

It means any compound that contains carbon.

For example table salt, NaCl does not contain carbon = inorganic.

Calcium Carbonate, CaCO3 contains carbon = organic.

There are at least 1 million know organic (carbon) compounds