Dr. Joseph Mercola
with Rachael Droege
As with many aspects of diet, there is a lot of conflicting
information about how much salt is healthy. The government
has lowered their sodium recommendations and is now recommending
that people get 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day, down from
the current recommendation of 2,400 milligrams, which is about
the amount in a heaping teaspoon of salt. They are also recommending
2,300 milligrams of chloride a day, so the sodium and chloride
combined comes out to a recommended 3,800 milligrams of salt
According to the
Institute of Medicine’s report, this is the amount
needed by healthy 19- to 50-year old adults to replace the
amount lost each day through sweat while taking in an adequate
diet. They set the "tolerable upper intake level"
for salt at 5,800 milligrams a day, but note that over 95
percent of American men and 75 percent of American women regularly
consume more than that.
Since most Americans already eat far more salt than is recommended,
this decrease would mean a substantial reduction in salt intake
for most, but it’s important to look at where the majority
of this salt is coming from. Not surprisingly, three-quarters
of the salt Americans consume daily comes from processed and
restaurant foods. Generally, cutting out these processed foods
from your diet, which should
be done for a number of health reasons, would drastically
reduce the amount of salt you consume.
Though most people are far from following a low-salt diet,
in reality most people are harmed by true low-salt diets,
and salt is not as bad as we have constantly been told. While
restricting salt in the diet may indeed be beneficial in some
cases, others will easily achieve a healthy amount of salt
if they follow a nutritious diet.
However, you don't want to use your current table salt. Instead,
obtain "real salt." The difference between conventional
and "real salt" is that conventional salt is dried
at over 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. This amount of heat changes
the chemical structure of the salt. Also, conventional processing
adds harmful additives and chemicals. When you do obtain "real
salt," you can use it liberally on your greens, such
as kale, to decrease any bitter taste.
Please be aware, though, that not everyone should take salt.
The best index I have found to determine if one needs salt
is to look at a fasting chemistry profile, which shows the
serum sodium level, from a good reference lab. The sodium
level should be 139 with an ideal range of 136 to 142. If
it is much lower, you probably need salt; if it is higher,
you probably want to restrict salt intake.
Salt is sodium chloride so you will also want to look at
your chloride level. The ideal is 102, with an ideal range
of 99 to 105. Just like sodium, lower levels suggest one should
add salt and higher levels suggest you should restrict its
If you need to avoid salt, lemon, garlic
and other fresh herbs are great replacements that will give
your food added flavor and a healthy kick.
People with weak adrenals lose sodium and need to eat more
natural salt. This is easily observed on a hair mineral analysis
that is not washed at the laboratory. The sodium and chloride
levels on a serum test are not a reliable indicator, in my
experience, because the body keeps them fairly even no matter
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