HomeNutritionHow A lot Sodium do we want? A Salty Lesson.

How A lot Sodium do we want? A Salty Lesson.


Sodium and well being is a extremely controversial subject these days.

The federal government tells us we shouldn’t be consuming greater than 2300mg a day.

The keto individuals inform us that we must be supplementing our diets with extra salt.

Influencers are promoting electrolyte dietary supplements with enormous quantities of sodium in them.

So, who’s proper?

Like something associated to vitamin, there’s a number of nuance right here. On this submit, I’m going to reply your questions on sodium, and deal with the circumstances in which you’ll want much less, or extra, of it. 

What’s sodium?

Sodium is a mineral that our our bodies must operate usually. It’s not the identical as ‘salt,’ which consists of a sodium ion and a chloride ion (which is why the chemical identify for desk salt is ‘sodium chloride’). 

Sodium is of course current in a number of meals, even ones that you just wouldn’t count on like meats, milk, and greens. That is in small quantities although – probably the most sodium-packed meals are ones which were ultra-processed or cured utilizing salt.

Sodium has been demonized for many years as the reason for assorted well being points. Whereas it’s true that extreme sodium consumption might be dangerous to well being, we will’t make this a blanket assertion that applies to everybody.

How does sodium work in our our bodies?

We’d like sodium to keep up fluid steadiness, and for conduction of impulses in nerves and muscle tissues. The quantity we want for these primary features is estimated at round 500mg a day. 

That is dependent in your sodium ranges to start with, in fact, as a result of there are conditions the place sodium ranges are low and have to be changed. 

Sodium ranges can go low once you lose fluids via weight-reduction plan (extra on that in a bit), sweat, poop, pee, or vomit, or you probably have elevated fluid losses from, say, an ileostomy or diuretics. 

They’re additionally affected you probably have a situation that causes fluid retention and dilution of sodium within the physique – comparable to coronary heart failure or kidney illness. In these circumstances, including extra sodium to your weight-reduction plan might be detrimental to well being, so we deal with the reason for the dilution to carry sodium ranges again to regular that approach. 

The kidneys are all the time working to keep up the sodium steadiness in our our bodies.

Let’s say you ran for 3 hours in 100F warmth, and also you misplaced a number of fluid. Your blood strain would lower, which might then ship hormonal alerts to the kidneys to filter out potassium, and retain sodium and fluid within the physique to carry the blood strain again up.

All of those features are regulated by hormones referred to as aldosterone and antidiuretic hormone (ADH), amongst others.

Once we eat extra sodium, our blood sodium rises, and our kidneys maintain on to fluid to dilute the sodium in our blood.

Ultimately, the kidneys do away with that extra sodium and fluid in urine. 

Issues develop into problematic when somebody eats extreme sodium all through the day, day-after-day. That’s as a result of the kidneys get strained and overwhelmed, and may’t handle the surplus sodium within the blood, resulting in extra power fluid retention, which places stress on blood vessels, resulting in elevated strain – aka ‘blood strain.’ 

Hypertension causes harm to blood vessels, resulting in kidney harm and a threat of coronary heart assault, stroke, aneurysm, imaginative and prescient loss, abdomen most cancers, and even reminiscence points, amongst different issues. 

This all sounds scary, however most of us don’t need to micromanage our sodium consumption. 

What are the suggestions round sodium?

The common North American consumes round 3400 mg of sodium a day, which is lots larger than the beneficial 2300 mg. 

Youngsters and infants want between 1200-1800 mg/day.

The vast majority of our sodium comes from extremely processed and ready meals, not from the salt shaker in our kitchens. 

The precise sodium degree for you might be controversial. Some research have recommended that low ranges of sodium within the weight-reduction plan (below 2300 mg/day) don’t influence coronary heart illness threat for individuals with hypertension. There are lots of people on-line who’re saying that sodium doesn’t have an effect on our well being in any respect, and I’ll deal with that in a bit.

All in all, probably the most sensible technique to handle sodium is to attempt to restrict your consumption of ultra-processed meals as a lot as you possibly can.

In case your blood strain is regular, and also you’re consuming a weight-reduction plan that’s principally complete and minimally processed meals, you in all probability don’t need to be involved with the quantity of sodium you’re consuming.

Outdoors of particular diagnoses, some persons are extra delicate to salt than others. This appears to be due to an irregular response by the kidneys to sodium, however there isn’t a frequent diagnostic check for salt sensitivity.

As with all the things, it’s a steadiness. Some belongings you eat are going to be excessive in sodium, as a result of CHIPS. That’s completely positive for many of us – the physique can deal with the occasional inflow of excessive sodium meals. 

If you’re a vitamin label, you’ll wish to have a look at the p.c every day worth of sodium that the meals accommodates. If it has greater than 15%, meaning it’s a excessive sodium alternative.

In the event you’ve had a coronary heart assault, observe the recommendation of your physician and RD by way of how a lot dietary sodium they suggest. If the center has sustained harm, or you’ve coronary heart failure, they’ll in all probability suggest a decrease sodium weight-reduction plan to assist keep away from additional harm to the center and vessels.

Is MSG a superb alternative for salt? Learn what I’ve to say about MSG right here.

Sodium and keto

Lots of people who’re on low-carb and keto diets take electrolyte dietary supplements, and there are a number of the explanation why they could really want extra sodium. First, the dearth of ultra-processed meals of their diets imply that they could be consuming much less sodium than the common individual.

Second, insulin has been proven to trigger reabsorption of sodium into the system as a substitute of elimination via the urine. If somebody’s insulin ranges are low (and they are often with a weight-reduction plan that accommodates only a few carbs), they might not be holding on to sodium – and an electrolyte complement can assist with that. Some suggestions for sodium on a keto weight-reduction plan can vary from 3000-5000+ mg/day.

The preliminary fluid loss that folks expertise from not consuming carbs will also be dehydrating and result in elevated sodium wants. 

How a lot water do we want in a day? Listed below are the suggestions.

For this reason you’re seeing a number of influencers promoting electrolyte replacements (I’m not naming any right here) and ingesting enormous cups of water with Himalayan salt. 

sodium and health
Nope to all of this.

Evidently, should you’re not on a low-carb or keto weight-reduction plan, you’re in all probability positive with out the electrolyte dietary supplements or salty water. The individuals saying that everybody wants an electrolyte complement, are unsuitable (they usually’re in all probability attempting to promote you one thing).

The DASH Weight-reduction plan

The DASH Weight-reduction plan – Dietary Approaches to Cease Hypertension – has been round for many years. Based mostly on the DASH examine from 1997, it reads like one thing that hasn’t been up to date….since 1997.

That was earlier than even I bought my vitamin diploma. 

The weight-reduction plan has two ranges of every day sodium – 2300mg, and 1500mg which, as a dietitian, I’ll inform you is extraordinarily arduous to keep up for most individuals consuming a diversified weight-reduction plan.

My points with DASH are many. 

The weight-reduction plan recommends low-fat and fat-free meals like salad dressings (nonetheless salty) and dairy.

It limits nuts and seeds to 4-5 servings per week, and meat/fish servings to 6oz a day. Whole.

The grain advice is, for my part, approach too excessive (for carbs and for salt) at 7-8 servings a day.

Fruit servings are too excessive (4-5 a day) and vegetable servings are too low (4-5 a day).

The weight-reduction plan nonetheless maintains that dietary ldl cholesterol must be restricted. This has been debunked many instances, notably right here. It additionally promotes a low-fat consuming sample, which, ignoring present analysis, appears to restrict even wholesome fat, and doesn’t make the excellence between dairy and meat fat. (right here) (right here)

I’ve by no means beneficial the DASH Weight-reduction plan to anybody for these causes.

sodium and train

Athletes, individuals who sweat lots and/or work out strenuously at size (greater than 60-90 minutes) in sizzling climate, might have extra sodium to exchange what they’ve misplaced. Not changing sodium may end up in hyponatremia, which is dangerously a low sodium degree. If this isn’t your scenario, and also you’re consuming frequently, you’re in all probability positive with plain water. 

This piece from ACE has some good pointers and charts round changing electrolytes throughout and after train.

What’s POTS? (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome)

POTS causes dizziness and quick coronary heart price once you go from sitting or mendacity down, to standing. Mainly, your physique can’t stabilize blood strain, main to those and different signs. 

POTS is a really actual factor and it’s additionally fairly frequent. Though we don’t know what the precise reason for POTS is, it appears to be related to viral diseases, being pregnant (POTS is much extra frequent in females than males), head trauma, and surgical procedure. Individuals with autoimmune illnesses are additionally extra prone to develop POTS

There are three varieties of POTS: hypovolemic, hyperadrenergic, and neuropathic. For individuals who have hypovolemic POTS, low blood quantity causes signs. A weight-reduction plan with satisfactory fluids and as much as 10,000 mg of sodium a day (sure, that’s lots) can assist improve blood quantity and alleviate signs. On this case, electrolyte dietary supplements can assist.

Is alkaline water essential? Right here’s the true story on alkaline water and the alkaline weight-reduction plan.

Meals which can be excessive in sodium

You’ll be able to in all probability guessed that meals that style salty – like chips, pickles, quick meals, and frozen meals – are excessive in sodium. I’ve discovered that just about something from a restaurant is excessive in sodium, just because they add a number of salt. Salt makes issues style good!

Hidden sources of sodium embody cottage and common cheeses, breads and pastries, soy and different sauces, sauerkraut (even when it’s good in your intestine, it’s nonetheless salty), and salad dressings. Canned meals will also be excessive in sodium, so should you’re watching your salt consumption, select low-sodium varieties. 

Sodium myths

Fantasy: Sodium isn’t unhealthy for us; it’s the components in packaged meals that trigger coronary heart illness

I’m not into conspiracy theories, however you’ll discover a number of them surrounding sodium (particularly on a sure well-liked electrolyte firm CEO’s social feed…simply wow)

A weight-reduction plan that’s excessive in sodium, whether or not from packaged meals or not, has proven to be deleterious to our well being (right here) (right here) (right here). The sugar and lack of fibre in packaged meals are one thing totally different, however are additionally related to threat for illness. 

None of this issues all that a lot should you’re consuming a weight-reduction plan that’s pretty low in ultra-processed and packaged meals. 

I’m unsure why anybody would even wish to problem the considering that extra sodium is dangerous to us – a decrease sodium weight-reduction plan is one thing that goes hand in hand with consuming extra complete meals. Looks as if a bizarre factor to dispute.

Fantasy: Himalayan pink salt, kosher salt, and Celtic salt are more healthy than desk salt

Nope. Salt is salt, regardless of how fairly it’s, or if somebody hand-picked it from probably the most distant place on the planet.

And Redmond Actual Salt? It’s salt. All salt is actual, please don’t fall for these ridiculous advertising and marketing ploys.

Sure, some salts have hint quantities of minerals in them. Nonetheless, you’d need to eat a number of salt to get any considerable results from these. Don’t eat salt for the iron.

Bobby Parrish of FlavCity has been recognized to say that Himalayan salt doesn’t influence blood strain like different salts, and he’s unsuitable (what a shock). All salt is sodium chloride. The chloride doesn’t have a lot impact on blood strain, however the sodium nonetheless does. So far as quantities of sodium in pink or kosher salt versus desk salt, they’re across the identical by weight.

A teaspoon of any rock salt might appear to have much less sodium than the identical quantity of desk salt, however that’s as a result of extra desk salt matches onto a teaspoon. That’s all.

Many of the unrefined salts on the market aren’t iodized, which might be a problem for somebody who isn’t getting sufficient iodine of their weight-reduction plan.

In a current Reel, I referred to as out an influencer for suggesting that desk salt is bleached. It’s not. Sodium chloride is WHITE. 

how much sodium should we be eating
She apparently doesn’t eat ‘salt,’ despite the fact that she EATS SALT.
See my Reels for particulars, and please don’t observe individuals like this.

It’s an enormous purple flag when anybody claims that desk salt is much less ‘wholesome’ than different salts.

Fantasy: Salt helps you take up water, so you must drink salt water within the morning to assist hydrate you all day lengthy

The ‘salt makes water wetter’ speculation. I hear a number of health trainers saying this.

sodium and health
This piece of labor is by a health coach at a neighborhood fitness center.
It’s an excellent instance of why many health trainers shouldn’t be giving vitamin recommendation.
how much sodium do I need
Nope.

Whereas we do want sodium and different electrolytes to soak up water, most of us eat greater than sufficient via meals. We solely want round 500mg a day for our bodily features, so that you don’t want so as to add salt to your morning water. Even should you do, it received’t assist hydrate you all day, as a result of your kidneys will flush it out fairly rapidly.

Please don’t pile extra salt onto a weight-reduction plan that’s in all probability greater than satisfactory in sodium. And most of us undoubtedly don’t must salt our fruit for ‘hydration’:

how much sodium
As an RD, I discover her content material problematic…together with this submit.

Lengthy story brief: should you’re consuming and also you aren’t dropping a ton of fluids (we talked about this above), you don’t want salt for hydration. 

The underside line on sodium is that this: most of us eat greater than sufficient of it. In the event you eat a weight-reduction plan excessive in complete meals, and also you don’t have any present well being points, you in all probability don’t must micromanage your sodium consumption. 



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