How Much Salt Do You Need to Be Healthy?

Are there benefits to higher sodium diets?

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
4-minute read
Episode #391

Katherine writes:

“Lately I’ve been hearing that a diet that’s too low in salt might be just as bad as one that’s too high. How much sodium should you eat each day?”

Getting people to reduce their sodium has been a major priority for our public health agencies over the years. Last year, New York City even passed legislation that would require restaurants to post warnings next to menu items that are considered high in sodium.

And yet, earlier this year, researchers published a review of existing studies in which they found that following a low sodium diet actually increased the risk of heart attack and stroke, both in people with high blood pressure as well as people with normal blood pressure.

See also: Why Can't Experts Agree on Sodium?

What Is the Right Amount of Sodium for a Healthy Diet?

A certain amount of sodium is essential for your health. The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine says that moderately active adults need about 1,500 mg of sodium per day. But this is based both on the amount of sodium you lose every day through perspiration, as well as the amount of sodium you need to eat in order to get enough of other minerals that generally "ride along" with sodium in foods.

For example, iodized salt is the primary source for iodine in the American diet. So restricting salt too much (or using un-iodized salt) could lead to iodine deficiency.

See also: Could Cutting Back on Salt Lead to Thyroid Problems?


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.