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Low Sodium Levels and Caffeine

By Joseph McAllister

A low level of sodium in your blood may be linked tenuously to the excessive usage of caffeine. When used in large doses, caffeine can have a diuretic effect on your body. This may cause your body to lose electrolytes like sodium, lowering your levels of the mineral.

Caffeine

Caffeine is a substance found in a variety of popular foods and beverages, from chocolate to soft drinks to coffee. Caffeine helps stimulate your nervous system, increasing your alertness and reducing your fatigue. According to MayoClinic.com, a dose between 200 and 300 milligrams, or the equivalent of around 3 cups of coffee, is relatively harmless in most people, although some individuals are more susceptible to caffeine.

Caffeine and Sodium

Small amounts of caffeine, like those in a couple of cups of coffee or a small soft drink, should not have a diuretic effect. A diuretic is a substance that causes you to urinate more frequently, which can lead to dehydration. However, large amounts of caffeine -- more than 500 to 600 milligrams -- can have this effect on your body. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, excessive urination, typically caused by diuretics like caffeine, has been linked to the loss of sodium from the body.

Low Sodium

If your body loses too much sodium, you can develop a condition called hyponatremia. Hyponatremia can also develop from the loss of fluids due to excessive sweating from prolonged exercise or other reasons, extreme vomiting or diarrhea, and kidney disease. Symptoms of hyponatremia include a headache, nausea, muscle cramps, disorientation, fatigue and fainting. Complications like brain swelling, seizures and brain damage can develop. In severe and sudden cases, this condition can result in death.

Other Effects of Caffeine

Excessive caffeine use has other negative side effects, in addition to acting as a diuretic. It can lead to insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, upset stomach, elevated heart rate, muscle tremors and jitteriness. These side effects typically develop after daily doses above around 500 milligrams. However, some individuals may be more sensitive, especially those on certain medications or with particular neurological disorders, like anxiety attacks. Pregnant women should also consume caffeine with caution.

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