Chlorine exists in the form of a salt (chloride) in the human body. It is present mostly in the extra cellular fluid. Chlorine is a greenish-yellow poisonous, gaseous element with a suffocating odor. In the body it is mostly present as sodium chloride or common salt, which performs various essential functions.
Combining with sodium, it forms the most important electrolyte in the body. It is needed to perform various cellular activities in the body. It carries electric charges from one cell to another. Electrolytes are needed for conduction of nerve impulses and muscle function.Most of the unutilized chloride is excreted in urine and smaller amount is passed through sweat and feces.
Major Functions Of Chlorine In Our Body
- The osmotic pressure in the cells and tissues is well maintained when there is optimal chloride level in the blood. With its presence, carbon dioxide is properly channeled from the tissues.
- Chloride is a catalyst in manufacturing of hormones from different glands.
- It also prevents build up excessive fat in tissues.
- Chloride being an electrolyte helps and maintains proper functioning of muscles. With loss of electrolytes the muscles become tensed and contracted. They lose their efficiency in performing their function. As chlorides are lost in sweat, people doing heavy exercise tend to lose it and thus manifest problems related to chloride and other electrolyte deficiencies.
- The acid and base balance in blood is regulated with chloride.
- It combines with potassium to form potassium chloride. This component is required for production of hydrochloric acid in stomach. The acid is used for breaking down food in stomach into various nutrients that are ultimately absorbed further down in the small intestine. Especially for digestion of protein.
- Adequate chloride in body helps to maintain proper fluid and electrolyte balance in the body.
Chloride is found in barley, wheat, and other grains and pulses, green leafy vegetables, and fruits like melon, and pineapple. The chloride that we take is mostly in the combined form of sodium chloride. Hence the foods that contain large quantities of sodium also contain chloride in the same proportion and vice versa.
Symptoms Of Deficiency Of Chlorine
- One of the reasons for deficiency of chloride is when salt (sodium chloride) is restricted in patients suffering from swelling in leg and different parts of body (edema). It is also restricted in patients suffering from high blood pressure. In such cases, the symptoms produced are same as that of sodium chloride deficiency. The skin elasticity is lost. Tongue becomes dry.
- Excessive loss of this salt in perspiration and diarrhea can lead to muscular cramps.
- Chloride deficiency can lead to loss of teeth and hair.
- Food digestion may be affected due to deficiency of chloride as it is involved in manufacturing of hydrochloric acid.
- Fluid levels may get deranged.
Uses Of Chlorine In Daily Life
- Chlorine is widely used in disinfecting water for drinking. It is also used in swimming pools.
- Used in the form of local application eusol which contains hypochlorus acid.
- Chlorine is used to disinfect chronic ulcers, but this usage is limited because its action is stopped by the presence of excessive organic matter.
Salt intake during summer should be sufficient to meet the body’s requirements especially when there is excessive vomiting and diarrhea and sweat due to heat.