Ask the Diva: Can Your Diet Be Too LOW in Salt?

Nutrition Diva explains when you should worry about dangerously low levels of the essential mineral.

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
1-minute read

Q. I've always heard bad things about too much salt and I use little to no salt in my food. But is it possible for one’s diet to be too low in salt? What would be the negative effects of not getting enough salt?

A. Sodium is an essential mineral—it’s really important. If you fail to take in enough sodium to replace what you lose through perspiration and elimination, your blood sodium levels could get dangerously low—a potentially fatal condition known as hyponatremia.

Fortunately, most people—even those on very low-sodium diets—get more than enough sodium from the foods they eat. Even though they don’t taste salty, fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy products, and grains all contain small amounts of sodium.

The main risk for hyponatremia is not inadequate dietary intake but conditions that cause excessive fluid and sodium losses.   Endurance athletes, for example, who sweat profusely for several hours, need to take in extra sodium as well as fluids in order to prevent hyponatremia.

Check out an article by Get-Fit Guy to learn more about preventing hyponatremia.

See also: Sodium High and How Much Water Should You Drink?

About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.