How important is sodium?

Since using MFP, this is the first time I've actually been tracking the contents of my food. I've counted calories before, but never paid attention to the carbs/protein/sodium etc, because it always seemed to complicated to work it out, plus I never knew how much I should actually have. MFP makes this much easier, so this is no longer a problem.

I've always been taught salt was bad, and my dad has high blood pressure so when I lived with my parents growing up, I got into the habit of never adding extra salt to food because my dad couldn't eat it. I've only recently started adding salt to things like pasta water and mashed potatoes.

But I've noticed pretty much everyday I am well below the MFP RDA for sodium. It suggests 2300mg/day. I seem to average around 500mg a day, even on days I go above my calorie goal.

Is this actually a problem? Is it a recommended daily allowance or more just an upper limit of what I should have?
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Replies

  • Julettashane
    Julettashane Posts: 723 Member
    i dont think the sodium is important unless you go over.....i try not to hit the 2500
  • jkwolly
    jkwolly Posts: 3,049 Member
    I have mine set for 2000, and try to even some days stay under 1500.

    Just don't go over 2500 by a massive amount and you'll be good!
  • neanderthin
    neanderthin Posts: 9,883 Member
    Salt is essential and 500mg's could be considered low for much of the worlds population. Sodium, chloride and potassium are all important nutrients........potassium is probably one of the most neglected minerals for general health and to reduce hypertension, which is generally blamed on salt.
  • luciafernanda
    luciafernanda Posts: 34 Member
    Pretty sure there's no danger of me going over 2500mg haha. I'm not sure why my intake is so low. It's not like I'm lacking in other areas. I guess I make almost everything from scratch and don't add salt. Avoid cheese and don't eat meat.
    Salt is essential and 500mg's could be considered low for much of the worlds population. Sodium, chloride and potassium are all important nutrients........potassium is probably one of the most neglected minerals for general health and to reduce hypertension, which is generally blamed on salt.
    can you recommend any healthy foods that I can eat to boost my sodium intake? I googled and it's basically just saying how unhealthy sodium is.
  • ninerbuff
    ninerbuff Posts: 48,501 Member
    Sodium is essential to the body. The RDA recommendation is not to exceed 2300 mg a day, but doesn't have a minimal limit. Something I need to check out.

    For the record, I don't believe sodium in excess matters much unless on is suffering from high blood pressure or hypertension.

    A.C.E. Certified Personal and Group Fitness Trainer
    IDEA Fitness member
    Kickboxing Certified Instructor
    Been in fitness industry for 30 years and have studied kinesiology and nutrition
  • eAddict
    eAddict Posts: 212 Member
    For the record, I don't believe sodium in excess matters much unless on is suffering from high blood pressure or hypertension.
    Don't forget the crappy weigh-in the next day due to all the water retention! ;-)
  • UsedToBeHusky
    UsedToBeHusky Posts: 15,229 Member
    Sodium is important. It's one of the many electrolytes that keeps the water in your body balanced. However, sodium is the easiest electrolyte to obtain from food as it is in everything. I can't imagine how you are only getting 500mg a day unless you are only eating raw vegetables all day long. If your sodium actually was too low, however, you would be experiencing side effects from it. The odds are pretty good that the entries you are using from the database do not include sodium, which isn't unheard of. Without looking at your diary, there isn't anyway to know for sure.

    But the important thing is to ensure that your potassium and sodium are at an appropriate ratio. If the ratio is too imbalanced, you will swell and could develop edema. That goes either way too much sodium - too little potassium OR too much potassium - too little sodium.
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 41,876 Member
    If I don't get enough sodium I cramp up when I workout. I'm hypertensive so I can't have too much either...I'm pretty much ok so long as I'm between 1800 - 2500 MG and getting at least 1.5 times that in potassium. 500 Mg is pretty low...I don't think I'd be able to do anything without having massive cramping.
  • UsedToBeHusky
    UsedToBeHusky Posts: 15,229 Member
    Pretty sure there's no danger of me going over 2500mg haha. I'm not sure why my intake is so low. It's not like I'm lacking in other areas. I guess I make almost everything from scratch and don't add salt. Avoid cheese and don't eat meat.
    Salt is essential and 500mg's could be considered low for much of the worlds population. Sodium, chloride and potassium are all important nutrients........potassium is probably one of the most neglected minerals for general health and to reduce hypertension, which is generally blamed on salt.
    can you recommend any healthy foods that I can eat to boost my sodium intake? I googled and it's basically just saying how unhealthy sodium is.

    What does your diet look like now? What do you mean by "healthy"? This descriptor is too generic to make specific recommendations.
  • neanderthin
    neanderthin Posts: 9,883 Member
    Pretty sure there's no danger of me going over 2500mg haha. I'm not sure why my intake is so low. It's not like I'm lacking in other areas. I guess I make almost everything from scratch and don't add salt. Avoid cheese and don't eat meat.
    Salt is essential and 500mg's could be considered low for much of the worlds population. Sodium, chloride and potassium are all important nutrients........potassium is probably one of the most neglected minerals for general health and to reduce hypertension, which is generally blamed on salt.
    can you recommend any healthy foods that I can eat to boost my sodium intake? I googled and it's basically just saying how unhealthy sodium is.
    I cook from scratch 90% of the time nd I just add salt to my food. Keep in mind salting food is an art, if you can taste the salt you added too much.

    As far as reading over and over again that salt is bad that is mostly just regurgitated recommendations that most wouldn't really know the reason for it, much like low fat and saturated fat either have been or is recommended, they didn't and don't know why.

    I remember reading somewhere that the lowest salt intake was around 1100 and the highest was just over 5000 in populations........Like ninerbuff I don't hold a lot of faith in the salt scare that seems to inundate recommendations.
  • FredDoyle
    FredDoyle Posts: 2,273 Member
    500 mg minimum daily was the amount I could find after extensive research earlier.
    Most people will get that without trying.
  • bcattoes
    bcattoes Posts: 17,299 Member
    How much sodium a body needs varies greatly from individual to individual. I would suggest asking your general physican if your intake is a problem. If you are getting yearly blood tests and you have not been told you have low sodium, then you are likely fine.

    ETA: Here is a good article on sodium and the controversy surrounding intake levels

    http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/salt-and-sodium/
  • toad493lbs
    toad493lbs Posts: 39 Member
    I recently asked my nutritionist what was the lowest amount of daily sodium to eat. She said that as far as she knows there was not a low level set. I eat lots of veggies like celery, carrots and such that are high in sodium so never have a problem with low but seldom go under 1000.
  • luciafernanda
    luciafernanda Posts: 34 Member
    Haha...you know...I've been looking at my diet charts more carefully, and I think what someone said above about it not logging the sodium is probably correct. I ate macaroni and cheese on Friday and it said it contained 0 sodium and I'm pretty sure that's not correct. So god knows how much sodium I actually am eating.

    When I run at the gym I often get a stitch, maybe that is a symptom of sodium imbalance. I have no idea what cramps would feel like as a result of not enough sodium. I'm new at all this.

    But anyway...it's interesting to hear about the importance and role of sodium.
  • neanderthin
    neanderthin Posts: 9,883 Member
    How much sodium a body needs varies greatly from individual to individual. I would suggest asking your general physican if your intake is a problem. If you are getting yearly blood tests and you have not been told you have low sodium, then you are likely fine.

    ETA: Here is a good article on sodium and the controversy surrounding intake levels

    http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/salt-and-sodium/

    I'd be interested to see the studies that confirm this.
    Given that the majority of US adults are at risk of developing health problems related to salt consumption
  • bcattoes
    bcattoes Posts: 17,299 Member
    How much sodium a body needs varies greatly from individual to individual. I would suggest asking your general physican if your intake is a problem. If you are getting yearly blood tests and you have not been told you have low sodium, then you are likely fine.

    ETA: Here is a good article on sodium and the controversy surrounding intake levels

    http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/salt-and-sodium/

    I'd be interested to see the studies that confirm this.
    Given that the majority of US adults are at risk of developing health problems related to salt consumption

    Do they not provide a link? Usually at the bottom of their articles are links to the studies. Or the link may be related to the 90% of Americans that develop high BP at some point in their lives, which would put them at risk.
  • vienna_h
    vienna_h Posts: 428 Member
    I'm in the same boat. My parents are salt-phobic and never add it to anything, and neither do I. I just never think of it. I also don't eat a lot of meat, unless I'm at a restaurant. I never realized how low my sodium was until I got on MFP!!! I was barely getting 500 mg, which is the minimum.

    It's actually more dangerous to get NOT ENOUGH salt than too much, unless you have high blood pressure and know salt triggers high pressure for you.

    Most people get enough salt because there is so much in processed foods, meat, etc. But if you cook everything from scratch, mostly eat veggies, you have to add salt. I forget ll the time....

    I try to eat pickles and salty chips as snacks to get more salt. But probably the easiest way would just be to try to remember to add it to veggies, grains, etc. Or add sauces higher in sodium.

    ETA: FETA CHEESE! I started putting feta on salad or spaghetti squash for more protein/sodium. How could I forget feta?
  • neanderthin
    neanderthin Posts: 9,883 Member
    How much sodium a body needs varies greatly from individual to individual. I would suggest asking your general physican if your intake is a problem. If you are getting yearly blood tests and you have not been told you have low sodium, then you are likely fine.

    ETA: Here is a good article on sodium and the controversy surrounding intake levels

    http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/salt-and-sodium/

    I'd be interested to see the studies that confirm this.
    Given that the majority of US adults are at risk of developing health problems related to salt consumption

    Do they not provide a link? Usually at the bottom of their articles are links to the studies. Or the link may be related to the 90% of Americans that develop high BP at some point in their lives, which would put them at risk.
    I'm going to take a stab and say that salt is on the very long list of foods that can be problematic in the SAD diet when over consumed. As far as salt an an independent risk factor when all other variables are accounted for I have my doubts.
  • bcattoes
    bcattoes Posts: 17,299 Member
    I'm in the same boat. My parents are salt-phobic and never add it to anything, and neither do I. I just never think of it. I also don't eat a lot of meat, unless I'm at a restaurant. I never realized how low my sodium was until I got on MFP!!! I was barely getting 500 mg, which is the minimum.

    It's actually more dangerous to get NOT ENOUGH salt than too much, unless you have high blood pressure and know salt triggers high pressure for you.

    Most people get enough salt because there is so much in processed foods, meat, etc. But if you cook everything from scratch, mostly eat veggies, you have to add salt. I forget ll the time....

    I try to eat pickles and salty chips as snacks to get more salt. But probably the easiest way would just be to try to remember to add it to veggies, grains, etc. Or add sauces higher in sodium.

    ETA: FETA CHEESE! I started putting feta on salad or spaghetti squash for more protein/sodium. How could I forget feta?

    No. Vegetables naturally have sodium. Most whole foods do. If you are healthy and not taking any medications (some meds mess with sodium levels), you shouldn't need to add sodium to natural foods. Mother Nature provides all the sodium we need. If not, the human race would have diet out a long time ago.

    It's easy enough to tell if you deficient though. It's just a simple blood test and one that you likely already get routinely if you have regular health check-ups.
  • vienna_h
    vienna_h Posts: 428 Member
    I'm in the same boat. My parents are salt-phobic and never add it to anything, and neither do I. I just never think of it. I also don't eat a lot of meat, unless I'm at a restaurant. I never realized how low my sodium was until I got on MFP!!! I was barely getting 500 mg, which is the minimum.

    It's actually more dangerous to get NOT ENOUGH salt than too much, unless you have high blood pressure and know salt triggers high pressure for you.

    Most people get enough salt because there is so much in processed foods, meat, etc. But if you cook everything from scratch, mostly eat veggies, you have to add salt. I forget ll the time....

    I try to eat pickles and salty chips as snacks to get more salt. But probably the easiest way would just be to try to remember to add it to veggies, grains, etc. Or add sauces higher in sodium.

    ETA: FETA CHEESE! I started putting feta on salad or spaghetti squash for more protein/sodium. How could I forget feta?

    No. Vegetables naturally have sodium. Most whole foods do. If you are healthy and not taking any medications (some meds mess with sodium levels), you shouldn't need to add sodium to natural foods. Mother Nature provides all the sodium we need. If not, the human race would have diet out a long time ago.

    It's easy enough to tell if you deficient though. It's just a simple blood test and one that you likely already get routinely if you have regular health check-ups.

    I didn't say vegetables had NO sodium. But they are very low in sodium compare to meat.

    "Mother nature provides all the sodium we need".... yes, including salt. You're not making any sense.

    Humans need a certain amount of sodium to survive. They need to get it somewhere in their diet. Usually from meat or other sources of food high in sodium.