Salt Intake: The Recommended Amount and The Consequences of Over and Under Consumption

Salt also commonly goes by the name of sodium chloride. Although it has developed a poor reputation lately, it is a crucial nutrient that is required by the body. Most of the sodium in your body resides in the blood and the fluid that surrounds the cells. There it helps to maintain the balance in the fluids.

Besides maintaining normal fluid balance, salt helps with muscle function and normal nerve function. The kidneys are responsible for regulating the body’s sodium levels by excreting the extra sodium via sweating and in your urine.

The salt that you take as part of your diet is the chief source of sodium in your body. It contains 40% of sodium and 60% of chloride by weight. Processed food provides a high source of salt as a lot of salt is widely used in food processing and manufacturing. An estimated 75% of the total sodium consumed comes from processed food.

Dietary Recommendations for Sodium Chloride

Estimates reveal that your body requires 186 mg of salt per day to function properly. However, it is not possible to consume such a small amount of salt as you won’t be able to maintain your energy levels and get the recommended amounts of other vital nutrients.

Consequently, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) suggests that healthy adults should consume 1,500 mg or 1.5 grams of sodium in a day. What’s more, the US Department of Health and Human Services suggests that healthy adults should limit their day to day sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg or 2.3 grams. This is equivalent to one teaspoon of salt.

The recommendations are based on scientific evidence that proves that sodium intake above 2.3 grams daily can significantly impact your blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease.

Since sodium is lost through sweat, these guidelines don’t apply to people who lead a highly active life such as workers working in hot conditions or athletes. In the present times, Americans consume a lot more salt than the recommended value. Their salt intake stands at 3,400 mg or 3.4 grams daily.

High Intake Linked to High Blood Pressure

Research has established a strong correlation between high blood pressure and excessive sodium intake. A large study investigated the matter in more than 100,000 people from eight different countries.

The researchers learned that those who took high amounts of sodium had significantly high blood pressure. These findings were in contrast with people who took a lower amount of sodium in their diet.

The scientists also unveiled that those individuals who took more than 7 grams of sodium per day were at a high risk of heart disease as well as early death in contrast with people who consume 3-6 grams of sodium daily.

Dangerous of under consumption

There are dangers associated with under consumption of sodium as well. It can impact your blood pressure and increase the likelihood of heart diseases. Research confirms this. It found out that those who less than 3 grams of sodium in a day were at increased odds of dying from heart disease as compared to those who consumed 4-5 grams.