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Old 02-25-2009, 06:44 AM   #1
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Default amount of sodium in diet: safe or not safe?


At dinner earlier tonight, there was a discussion about sodium intake. I don't eat a lot of processed foods, so my sodium intake is less compared to relatives of mine who eat a lot of processed foods.

How much is considered to be a safe but low sodium diet?

For instance, one of my relatives is on a doctor-restricted low sodium diet (under 1,000 mg of sodium daily).


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Old 02-25-2009, 07:11 AM   #2
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2400mg is considered the max a person should have, though estimates put most Americans at twice that I think the bare minimum is 500mg because the body really does need some sodium to function properly. My father has congestive heart failure and has been advised to limit sodium to 1000mg and it can be hard to do even if you don't own a salt shaker. It's in everything. I was shocked how much sodium is in simple foods like cottage cheese! Even tap water has sodium, and the amount varies around the country.

Mayo Clinic suggests 1500 to 2400mg for most people.
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Old 02-25-2009, 01:14 PM   #3
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Also, sodium is not a health issue for all people. It can vary from individual to individual and be affected my medications you're on, and just your natural body chemistry.

I have high blood sugar, but I tend towards low blood sodium levels. Once so low that I needed supplements before surgery, and I was told that I needed to remind all future doctors before surgery that I need to have my sodium tested. I don't eat a lot of salt, but don't intentionally avoid it (except I don't like most very salty foods). I am on a blood pressure medication that preserves potassium levels, but increases sodium output (most blood pressure medications do this today, as the american diet is much more likely to have excess sodium than potassium). My doctor believes that the blood pressure med and my diet doesn't fully explain why I tend towards low sodium, he thinks it's just a personal fluke. There have been times when he's looked at my lab results and encouraged me to use the salt shaker for a week or so.

What I'm trying to say in my usual rambling style is that there may be no safe minimum or maximum for everyone. It may be a very individual thing. It may depend partially on your potassium intake (potassium and sodium have an antagonistic effect - potassium drives down your sodium, and sodium drives down your potassium, so balance may be more important with those two minerals than concrete amounts). Also, water intake is important (water encourages the body to dilute the blood of minerals, so in a sense excess sodium, and probably potassium as well, can be washed away with water).

I know it sounds complex, but there are a lot of factors. Talking with your doctor, or better yet a dietitian would probably be the best way to determine your individual needs.
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Last edited by kaplods; 02-25-2009 at 01:14 PM.
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