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A salty subject

Posted by: admin at 12:00 am on May 12th, 2016

Q:

A salty subject

A:

I am totally confused on how much salt/sodium one needs daily. I read that we need salt and that we do not need salt. Then there are articles that say to limit your sodium. Is that the same thing as limiting your salt? Please clarify.

If you are like the average American, you are consuming more sodium than you need. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting sodium to less than 2,300 milligrams daily. The American Heart Association recommends restricting daily consumption of sodium to less than 1,500 milligrams. A single teaspoon of table salt, a chemical compound called sodium chloride, contains 2,325 milligrams of sodium (forty percent of salt is sodium). According to Mayo Clinic, the average American eats about 3,400 milligrams of sodium daily.

Medical News Today states the body needs some sodium to function properly for three reasons: 1) It helps maintain the right balance of fluids in the body, 2) it helps transmit nerve impulses and 3) it influences the contraction and relaxation of muscles.

The kidneys play a key role in balancing sodium for optimal health. When the body's sodium levels are low, your kidneys hold onto the sodium. When the body's sodium is high, your kidneys excrete the excess in urine.

So where are we getting so much sodium from? The vast majority of sodium consumed in the American diet comes from processed and prepared foods, according to Harvard Health Publications. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states more than 75 percent of dietary sodium comes from sodium added to packaged and processed foods. The FDA recommends reading the food label closely. If twenty percent or more of the daily value of sodium is listed on the label, that is too much and is considered high.

Sadly, kids in the United States consume nearly as much salt as adults do, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Maintaining your sodium level is critical to a healthy body, so check with your physician to be sure you are consuming an adequate amount.

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: Anger is a feeling that makes your mouth work faster than your mind.

The next free nutrition class will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at The Cuero Wellness Center.

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant; email her at docphylis@gmail.com. This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.

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