Up until now, lower sodium levels in the blood were usually overlooked, but a new study suggests they might affect cognitive function in seniors.
Anything below 135 millimoles per liter is considered to be a low amount of sodium in the blood. This health issue, also known as hyponatremia, was usually regarded as asymptomatic or insignificant, but findings from a paper published in Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology indicate a possible link with cognitive decline in old age.
The research was done on otherwise healthy males, aged 65 years and above, which were monitored for a median of 4.6 years. Scientists noticed that the subjects who had lower sodium levels – as well as those who had too high – were more likely to experience cognitive impairment and declines in cognitive function over time.
However, even though there seemed to be a connection between sodium levels and cognitive function, there is still need for further research. As seniors tend to have both hyponatremia and gradual cognitive decline, there is still a possibility that these two issues are unrelated.
In any case, it can’t hurt to pay attention to serum sodium range in your blood tests. Hyponatremia is usually treated with IV fluids and diuretics, but there are ways to make sure your electrolytes are always in the right balance. If you tend to have lower sodium levels, try avoiding coffee and alcohol, as well as reducing your water intake. Additionally, including beverages fortified with electrolytes or sodium-rich foods can up your counts significantly.
There are numerous factors that could lead to cognitive impairment in the elderly, including serious conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. But, if the link between sodium levels and cognition is confirmed, a change in diet or lifestyle could prevent issues in the long run and preserve your brain health and function.
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