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What is the Daily Recommended Sodium Intake?

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  • Written By: C. K. Lanz
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 04 November 2016
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The daily recommended sodium intake is the recommended amount of salt that a healthy adult should consume on a daily basis. For a healthy adult, the daily recommended sodium intake varies slightly from country to country. In the United States, the daily recommended sodium intake is less than 2,300 milligrams or approximately 1 teaspoon for the average adult. The United Kingdom recommends a daily intake of 1,600 milligrams of sodium, while Canada suggests an intake of between 1,200 and 1,500 milligrams per day. Studies indicate that an adult's daily sodium consumption averages between 2,700 and 4,900 milligrams across all countries. The daily recommended sodium intake is less for people who suffer from hypertension or who are black, middle-aged, or elderly.

Many people may find it difficult to determine how much salt they are consuming every day. Processed foods generally contain high levels of sodium. Most of the salt that people consume on a daily basis has been added to foods by manufacturers.

Approximately 10 percent of an adult’s daily salt intake is from natural sources. Celery, dairy products, and meat are natural sources of salt. Soy sauce and other condiments also contain high levels of sodium.

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In addition to the salt that is already in their food, people may add additional table salt as flavoring, and some recipes call for salt. Taste is not always an accurate indicator of how much salt is in a meal. Discretionary use of table salt accounts for an additional 5 to 10 percent of daily sodium intake.

Sodium is an important electrolyte. It helps the muscles contract and relax, and it also facilitates the transmittal of nerve impulses. Additionally, sodium helps the body maintain the right balance of fluids.

Too much or too little salt can cause everything from muscle cramps and dizziness to neurological problems and even death. The overconsumption of salt has been linked to stroke, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure, as well as gastric ulcers, osteoporosis, and stomach cancer.

Individuals can reduce their risk for high blood pressure and other medical conditions by decreasing their consumption to the level of their daily recommended sodium intake. This is especially important for those individuals who are in salt-sensitive groups like middle-aged and elderly adults and blacks.

There are several ways to reduce sodium consumption. Eliminating salt from recipes with the exception of baked goods is often a simple way to consume less sodium. Avoiding processed foods and salty condiments are additional methods. An individual’s taste for salt is acquired and can be adjusted.

Food labeling laws in most countries require companies to disclose how much sodium is in a serving of their products. Food packages may also be labeled as sodium- or salt-free or light in sodium. A product that is labeled as light in sodium is usually required to contain 50 percent less salt than the normal version.

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