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Salt - How Much do we Know?

Dr. Yogitha Bali

Before you sprinkle a little salt on your next meal, learn the truth about how much salt you really need, how it can impact your health, and more. Read these surprising facts to improve your salt IQ and your overall health.

The amount of sodium required depends on the individual’s ideal body weight and is equivalent to 1 mmol per kilogram per day. For instance, for a man of 176 cms height and 70kgs of ideal body weight, 70 mmol of sodium per day is the recommended dietary sodium.
  • Salt commonly known as table salt, and chemically as sodium chloride is the main source of sodium in our diet.
  • Salt for human consumption is produced in different forms: unrefined salt (sea salt), refined salt (table salt), and iodized salt.
  • It is a crystalline solid, white, pale pink or light gray in color, normally obtained from sea water or rock deposits.
  • It’s an essential nutrient required by the body to help regulate the fluid balance, heart rhythm, conduction of nerve impulses and contraction of muscles.
  • Healthy adults should reduce their sodium intake to no more than 2400 milligrams per day. This is about 1¼ teaspoons of sodium chloride or the salt.
  • Salt can be measured as follows; ¼ teaspoon salt= 500mg sodium, ½ teaspoon salt= 1,000 mg sodium, ¾ teaspoon salt= 1,500mg sodium, 1 teaspoon salt= 2,000mg sodium.
  • The amount of sodium required depends on the individual’s ideal body weight and is equivalent to 1 mmol per kilogram per day. For instance, for a man of 176 cms height and 70kgs of ideal body weight, 70 mmol of sodium per day is the recommended dietary sodium.
  • Sources of sodium for adults include bread, butter, cheese, pickles, olives, prawns, scallops etc.
  • High sodium sources include all canned, corned and pickled or salted meat or fish, highly salted breakfast cereals, cakes, pastries, buns, biscuits, milk chocolates, caramels, canned vegetables unless labelled no added salt, pickles, minted frozen peas, all canned and packed soups, commercial sauces, salted nuts, snack foods like potato crisps, meat and fish pastes etc.
  • Infants require less sodium than adults, approximately, 10-49mmol per day that is obtained through the breast milk.
  • According to a study, too much or too little salt in the diet can lead to muscle cramps, dizziness, or electrolyte disturbance, which can cause neurological problems, or death.
  • Drinking too much water, with insufficient salt intake, puts a person at risk of water intoxication (hyponatremia).
  • Salt is sometimes used as a health aid, such as in treatment of dysautonomia.
  • The Cochrane Collaboration found that “a modest and long term reduction in population salt intake would result in a lower population blood pressure, and a reduction in strokes, heart attacks and heart failure.
  • In a study, decrease in salt intake has been suggested to treat edema (fluid retention).
  • Scientific evidence also shows an association between salt intakes and blood pressure among different populations and age range in adults. Reduced salt intake also results in a small reduction in blood pressure.

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