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Sodium Facts

What is Sodium?

Sodium maintains the body’s fluid and electrolyte balance, acid-base balance, muscle contractions, and nerve transmission.

Sodium requirements

There is no RDA for sodium because the human diet has never lacked it. An adequate amount of sodium for adults is between 250 and 500 mg/day. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for healthy adults is 2300 mg/day. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends an upper limit of 1500 mg/day for people over 50 and 1200 mg/day for those over 70. The average American adult consumes 4000 mg/day.

What happens when Sodium intake is too high?

For "salt-sensitive" people, blood pressure will increases in direct proportion to increases in sodium intake. About 60% of adults with high blood pressure are salt sensitive. Blood pressure above120 systolic/80 diastolic is high. In countries where sodium intake is low, there is less hypertension, cardiovascular disease and stroke. Excess sodium may also weaken the bones by promoting calcium excretion.

What happens when Sodium intake is too low?

Sodium deficiency is extremely rare. The kidneys conserve and release sodium as needed to maintain fluid balance. The amount of sodium lost in a day, as urine and sweat, equals the amount of sodium eaten in the diet.

Which foods are high in Sodium?

Foods in their natural state have very little sodium. Fast foods and processed foods are highest in sodium. Processed foods include snack foods, deli items, bakery products, canned foods, and prepared foods like salad dressings, and spaghetti sauce. Table salt, soy sauce and other condiments are high in sodium. Salt is 40% sodium and 60% chloride.

List of foods high in Sodium





Mixed Dishes



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