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Pflugers Arch. 2015 Mar;467(3):445-56. doi: 10.1007/s00424-014-1676-y. Epub 2015 Jan 10.

The biopsychology of salt hunger and sodium deficiency.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, University of Iowa, 11 Seashore Hall E, Iowa City, IA, 52242, USA.

Abstract

Sodium is a necessary dietary macromineral that tended to be sparsely distributed in mankind's environment in the past. Evolutionary selection pressure shaped physiological mechanisms including hormonal systems and neural circuits that serve to promote sodium ingestion. Sodium deficiency triggers the activation of these hormonal systems and neural circuits to engage motivational processes that elicit a craving for salty substances and a state of reward when salty foods are consumed. Sodium deficiency also appears to be associated with aversive psychological states including anhedonia, impaired cognition, and fatigue. Under certain circumstances the psychological processes that promote salt intake can become powerful enough to cause "salt gluttony," or salt intake far in excess of physiological need. The present review discusses three aspects of the biopsychology of salt hunger and sodium deficiency: (1) the psychological processes that promote salt intake during sodium deficiency, (2) the effects of sodium deficiency on mood and cognition, and (3) the sensitization of sodium appetite as a possible cause of salt gluttony.

PMID:
25572931
PMCID:
PMC4433288
DOI:
10.1007/s00424-014-1676-y
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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