- Sodium is an element that the body needs to work properly. Salt contains sodium. The body uses sodium to control blood pressure and blood volume.
- Sodium is also needed for your muscles and nerves to work properly.
- Sodium occurs naturally in most foods. Milk, beets, and celery also naturally contain sodium, as does drinking water, although the amount varies depending on the source.
- Sodium is also added to various food products. Some of these added forms are monosodium glutamate, sodium nitrite, sodium saccharin, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), and sodium benzoate. These found in items such as Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, onion salt, garlic salt, and bouillon cubes.
- Processed meats, such as bacon, sausage, and ham, and canned soups and vegetables are all examples of foods that contain added sodium. Fast foods are generally very high in sodium.
Too much sodium in the diet may lead to:
- High blood pressure in some people
- A serious build-up of fluid in people with congestive heart failure, cirrhosis, or kidney disease
- Sodium in the diet (called dietary sodium) is measured in milligrams (mg). Table salt is 40% sodium; 1 teaspoon of table salt contains 2,300 mg of sodium.
- Healthy adults should limit sodium intake to 2,300 mg per day. Adults with high blood pressure should have no more than 1,500 mg per day. Those with congestive heart failure, liver cirrhosis, and kidney disease may need much lower amounts.
- The specific amount of sodium intake recommended for infants, children, and adolescents is not clear. Eating habits and attitudes about food formed during childhood are likely to influence eating habits for life. For this reason, it is a good idea to avoid eating too much salt.