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How Much Salt Do You Need to Be Healthy?

Are there benefits to higher sodium diets?

By
Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
Episode #391

 

Assuming that intake of other minerals is sufficient, the amount of sodium it would take to prevent an actual sodium deficiency is probably closer to 500 to 1,000 mg, depending on how active you are and how much you sweat. People who engage in very strenuous exercise or spend time in very hot conditions may need considerably more sodium to replace what’s lost through perspiration.

See also: What Are Electrolytes?

Where Is Sodium Found?

Packaged and prepared foods, including the meals we eat in restaurants, account for about 75% of the sodium in a typical diet. Salty snacks like potato chips may seem like an obvious source but others are less so. Surprisingly, commercially prepared breads and cereals are one of the primary sources of sodium in the American diet!

But even if you eat absolutely no packaged or prepared foods and use no salt in your cooking, you almost certainly get 500 mg of sodium per day. Fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, dairy products, nuts, seeds, and other whole foods all contain enough naturally occurring sodium to meet the body’s minimum requirements.

But are there benefits to higher sodium diets that we’ve been overlooking?

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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. 

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