Recommended Daily Sodium Intake

Most people get well over their daily recommended intake of sodium. There is research that shows this can be harmful to health. It can be difficult to track your sodium intake because it is a “hidden” ingredient in so many foods. Even if you eliminate the addition of table salt from your diet, you could still find your sodium levels elevated. The only true way to monitor your sodium intake is to track the amount of sodium in each food you eat throughout the day. What are the major sources of sodium? What’s the recommended daily intake?

Recommended Daily Sodium Intake

Health professionals recommend 1500 mg of sodium per day for average adults. This is considered the official Adequate Intake level. Keep in mind, some sodium is required for the body to function properly, so cutting it completely from your diet is unhealthy. There is further warning to not exceed 2300 mg per day. This is called the Tolerable Upper Limit. Exceeding this amount, especially if done on a regular basis, will damage a person’s health. Health experts recommend as much of the Adequate Intake level come from whole, natural foods, such as vegetables and fruits that are also high in potassium.

There are some groups with a higher risk of sodium related health issues. The following individuals should limit their daily sodium intake to no more than 1500 mg per day:

  • Diabetics
  • African Americans
  • Adults 51 and over
  • Adults suffering from high blood pressure
  • Individuals suffering from chronic kidney disease

The following table offers more information on daily sodium intake recommendation:

Age group

Recommended Daily Sodium Intake

1 to 3

1000 mg

4 to 8

1200 mg

9 to 50

1500 mg

51 to 70

1300 mg

70+

1200 mg

Warnings

The Upper Limit of 2300 mg of sodium per day is considered the most a person can ingest without any ill effects. This limit is set based on the general population, not those with health conditions or those in special populations, including children and elderly. It is important to remember the Upper Limit is NOT the recommended intake, but the absolute highest amount anyone should consume in one day.

There is no benefit to consuming more than the recommended Adequate Intake. This is not a situation in which aiming for a higher amount is a good thing. View the amount between the Adequate Intake and the Upper Limit as a cushion. You should aim for the Adequate Intake amount, but you will probably be alright if you surpass it, but remain below the Upper Limit. Unless you are suffering from a specific disease, your doctor will likely recommend you casually monitor your sodium intake.

Dangers of Overdose

Medical research has shown there is a direct connection between sodium and blood pressure.

Excessive amounts of sodium increase blood pressure and promote hypertension. Hypertension, especially when it is chronic, can be a precursor for stroke, heart disease, and kidney failure. Learning to read the sodium labels on processed foods and checking the sodium content especially makes it easier to keep tabs on sodium intake.

Major Sources of Sodium

1. Processed and Prepared Foods

Processed and prepared foods are one of the worst sources of sodium, especially in the traditional western diet. Foods designed for convenience and quick preparation utilize sodium for a preservative. It is used to make the food taste appealing and to help it to last as long as possible. Most people think of processed and prepared foods as frozen meals, but this category also includes bread, meat and egg dishes,

2. Natural Sources

Health experts recommend people get the majority of their sodium from natural sources. All vegetables and dairy products, as well as shellfish and met contain sodium. They are not loaded with sodium, like processed foods, but sodium is present. A single cup of milk contains about 100 mg of sodium. This would be a healthy choice to help you reach your recommended daily intake of sodium each day.

3. Salt and Condiments

Many people enjoy sprinkling table salt onto their food before eating. Salt is also a common ingredient in many recipes. There are also many other options for dressing or sprucing up the flavor of food, such as condiments, and most are high in sodium. For instance, one popular salt alternative, soy sauce, is extremely high in sodium. One tablespoon contains 1000 mg of sodium.

10 Main Sources of Sodium

Foods

Percentage of Total Sodium Intake

Sandwiches, Pizza, Hamburgers, Hot Dogs Sub Sandwiches

19.1

Soup (especially canned soup)

7.4

Pasta

5.7

Milk and Milk Beverages

4.0

Chicken and Chicken Dishes

3.8

Potatoes

3.4

Cheeses

3.2

Cereals

3.0

Meat Sauces

2.9

 
 
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