Sodium is an important requirement for a healthy life and to maintain normal fluid levels in the body. The nutrients in the salt are what you need for muscle and nerve repair. However, too much of it can harm your heart. The Federal Government’s Official Dietary Guidelines say that on average, an American adult should consume 2,300 mg of sodium. One should avoid high sodium diets because they are linked to hypertension, kidney disease, and inability to properly absorb the sodium consumed. How much sodium one needs remain to be a controversial topic with some people not benefiting from a reduced sodium diet. Below we’re looking at this matter in depth to help you know your daily recommended sodium intake.
How to Tell How Much Sodium You’re Eating
In any given food, you can know the amount of sodium by reading the Nutrition Facts Label. There, you’ll be able to see the amount of sodium per serving in milligrams. Look in the ingredients list for words like sodium, salt or soda. Then check the total sodium which includes the sodium from salt, plus the sodium from any other sodium-containing ingredient in the product.
Be keen to note the serving size on the Nutrition Facts Label. Because for a portion size equivalent to two servings of a product, you will be eating double the sodium listed.
Daily Dietary Sodium Recommendations
Health practitioners have always told their patients to limit their sodium intake to control blood pressure. A human body is said to require only 186 mg of sodium per day to function well. But this amount tends to be low considering you need energy and nutrients from the sodium. Therefore, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) encourages adults to consume 1,500 mg of sodium daily. While the USDA and the US Department of Health and Human Services recommend all adults to limit their sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg a day which is the same as one teaspoon of salt.
This recommendation was made after a clinical study that found sodium intake above 2300 mg daily to adversely affect blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease. However, for more active individuals like competitive athletes or workers, this may not apply since they lose a lot of sodium through sweating. But that isn’t an excuse to consume way too much sodium.
In fact, Americans today take in more sodium than health authorities recommend, ranging above 3,400 mg every day. Most people don’t agree with these recommendations because people with normal blood pressure may not benefit from restricting their sodium intake. Plus, some evidence suggests that less salt intake decreases heart disease risk in healthy people.
Should You Limit Your Sodium Intake?
Individuals with high blood pressure should certainly consume less sodium. Similarly, those who have been instructed by their physician or registered dietitian to limit sodium intake for medical reasons should do so. But, cutting back on sodium doesn’t seem to help in healthy people. Though many health institutions insist on low sodium intake. Studies show that people who take less than three grams of sodium daily have a greater chance of getting heart disease and early death compared to those who consume four to five grams. This raises concerns to the current sodium guidelines which ranges between 1500 mg to 2300 mg. Some health bodies believe that these sodium levels are too low. That being said, the number of people consuming six grams of sodium per day is at 22 percent and the amount of sodium being consumed by healthy individuals is probably safe.
Dangers of Underconsumption
Evidence shows that reducing your daily sodium intake to the recommended levels may be potentially harmful. A study was carried out in more than 133,000 people with and without high blood pressure from 49 countries across six continents. Researchers examined how sodium intake affected the risk of heart disease and early death. The results revealed that, regardless of blood pressure, people whose sodium intake was below 3000 mg daily were at a higher risk of having heart disease or death compared to those who consumed 4,000 to 5,000 mg.
Additionally, those with sodium intake less than 3,000 mg per day had worse health outcomes than people whose intake was 7,000 mg. Still, researchers found that high blood pressure persons who consumed more than 7,000 mg of sodium daily were more likely to get heart disease or die than people who took 4,000 to 5,000 mg. This research and other researchers suggest that too little sodium intake may be detrimental to people’s health than higher intakes.
Sodium contains crucial nutrients needed by the body for many functions. Trusted health bodies recommend between 1,500 to 2,300 mg of sodium in a day. Yet, multiple evidence suggests that this amount is too low. But one thing for sure, people with high blood pressure shouldn’t exceed 7,000 mg of sodium per day. The amount you’re consuming is probably safe if you’re healthy. All in all, you should know your limit and in case you’re worried about blood pressure, there are other more effective things you can do like losing weight and exercising.
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