Today we are going to have a look at the very interesting macro element chlorine. We are going to answer the question “Why is chlorine so important for the body? – The acid” and we will learn what it is, what the functions are, where we can get it from and some other interesting facts about it.
Where can you find the highest concentration of Chlorine in your body and why is it so important?
The highest concentration of chlorine in the body can be found in the gastric juice and in the sweat.
The gastric juice contains 0,1 – 1% of hydrochloric acid, which is a compound of chlorine and hydrogen. Hydrochloric acid is very acidic, with a pH value of -1 (35% solution) until 1 (0,35% solution). The purpose of the hydrochloric acid, together with other substances like enzymes, is the split-up of the food ingredients. Especially the split-up of proteins and the antibacterial function are important tasks of hydrochloric acid.
Another important function of chlorine is its connection to sodium, as their function within the compound sodium chloride or salt. Sodium chloride is important in our body by transporting fluids due to the balancing of concentration. An example is the sweating. Salt is excreted through the pores and because of the generated concentration gradient, the fluids in the body are also excreted through the pores in order to chill the body.
So without chlorine, we would not be able to digest our food properly and we might get a heat stroke.
What is Chlorine?
Chlorine is a halogen, which is normally found in nature as a compound. This is because the free element chlorine, which exists as a diatomic molecule, is highly reactive and on top highly toxic to us. Typical compounds of chlorine are sodium chloride or hydrochloric acid. In its solved form, it is found as a negatively charged ion, an anion.
Chlorine is water-soluble and an essential macro element for us, as we have to get our amount through nutrition.
What is the demand of Chlorine?
Depending on the age, health and lifestyle the daily demand for an average and healthy adult for chlorine is about
3000 milligrams (mg) per day.
Where can you get Chlorine from (Top foods)?
Here are the Top foods, which are rich in Chlorine:
1. Salt and salted foods (up to 60.000 mg/100g),
2. Fish and shells (up to 1.000 mg/100g)
3. Rice (up to 230 mg/100g)
4. Oat (up to 150 mg/100ml)
5. Wild herbs, banana (up to 100 mg/100ml)
Fact: Processed food, salted food, canned food and soy sauce are sources of high amounts of salt, which is the most important source of chlorine. Be sure to limit your intake of salt to not more than about 3 g per day on average.
What are the functions and benefits of Chlorine?
As mentioned above, chlorine, together with sodium as sodium chloride is responsible for the water balance in our body. It generates the osmotic pressure due to the property of fluids to strive for concentration equilibrium. That is not only necessary to sweat, but also to carry water to a certain place in the body by accumulating sodium chloride in this area.
Furthermore, chlorine is indispensable in the process of digestion through the gastric juice as its existence in the hydrochloric acid.
Sodium chloride is transported through the blood plasma to reach every cell in the body. There it is also responsible for the charge balance of the cell metabolism and therefore to maintain the bioelectrical potential. For this, there are existing special chloride channels, which are also able to pass carbon dioxide and its solved compound carbonic acid.
About 56 % of the chlorine is found in the extracellular space, 12 % in the inner cellular space and about a third in the bones.
What deficiency symptoms of Chlorine exist?
As we have much food containing chlorine a lack of it is seldom. Only acute gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhea may cause a temporary deficiency because much chlorine is washed out. The same goes with dehydration, also through sweating.
Symptoms caused by a lack of chlorine can be as followed:
- muscle twitching or cramps
- disorders in the correct heart function
What overdose symptoms of Chlorine exist?
Surplus chlorine normally is excreted through the kidneys and the sweat. An overdose of chlorine is possible due to a high consume of it and is more likely if your kidneys don´t work properly. The symptoms can be:
- high blood pressure and possible cardiovascular diseases
What else may you have to consider about Chlorine?
The amount of chlorine in our body is about 100 g for a person with 75 kg.
Chlorine and sodium work as counterparts, mostly in the extracellular space.
Chlorine was first discovered within the reaction of hydrochloric acid and manganese oxide by the English biochemist and mulit-explorer Sir Humphry Davy in 1808.
The word chlorine derives from the greek word “chloros”, which means bright green.
Fun Fact: As chlorine is a good disinfectant, it is often used in swimming pools. But it is not the chlorine itself, which leads to the characteristic swimming bath smell, but it is the compound trichloramine, which develops out of the reaction of urea and solved chlorine compounds in the water. Urea is found in the sweat and in the urine.
Today we learned that Chlorine is necessary and important for us. In addition to its function in the digestive process and its function in the water balance, it is there to maintain the bioelectrical potential and to secure the supply of the cells and the disposal of no longer used substances.
In the next blog post of this category, we will have a closer look at the second last remaining essential macro element, namely phosphorus.
Now it is your turn. What do you think? Was something new or interesting here for you or do you want to tell us something? Let us know in the comments.