Diet Facts: How Much Sodium Is Too Much?

Sodium is a primary electrolyte that regulates your body fluids. It is an essential mineral for proper hydration because it acts as a pump that moves water into your cells. However, a diet high in sodium can lead to health risks and toxicity. So, how much sodium in your diet is too much?

Daily Sodium Requirements

The Food and Nutrition board recommends that the average sodium intake per day is less than 2,400 mg for a healthy adult. This equates to half of the sodium consumption in the average American diet. In fact, a single teaspoon of table salt will give you your daily-recommended allowance of sodium.

Sodium Toxicity Risks

A diet that is high in sodium will lead to toxicity, resulting in health risks like hypertension and edema. Increased consumption of sodium also results in urinary calcium loss, which can lead to osteoporosis later in life. If you experience excess swelling of the limbs or high blood pressure, then you should consider lowering your daily sodium intake.

Sodium Deficiency Risks

Athletes may run the risk of sodium deficiency. A diet that is rich in whole foods with minimal salt intake, plus hydration through water rather than sports drinks during training may lead to a sodium imbalance known as hypoatremia. Hypoatremia is characterized by lethargy and confusion. It may lead to seizures and even a coma, so sodium is very important when training for sports. 

Getting the Right Amount

Avoid processed foods that add sodium during manufacturing. These include snack foods like chips and crackers, cheese, pickled foods and deli meats. Using a small amount of sea salt to season your food is adequate enough to fulfill your dietary need. 

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