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Dr Russ Blog - How much salt / sodium?
How much salt / sodium?
Created on 8/8/2008

Last week we addressed the potential for gentle increases in dietary potassium to help lower blood pressure. As noted in that posting, recommendations regarding potassium intake are typically paired with advice about sodium intake. Recall that sodium plays important roles in body fluid balance, blood pressure maintenance, and proper nerve and muscle function, and so is essential to your health. It's relatively easy to get adequate daily dietary sodium, which means it's also easy to get too much, and  too much sodium can be harmful to you.

Most of us think only of salt when considering sodium. After all, salt, commonly known as sodium chloride, is the primary dietary source of sodium, but sodium lurks in many places, including some medications. While it's important to limit use of your salt shaker, it's even more important to read food labels so you can avoid products high in sodium, and to ask your doctor or Harris Teeter pharmacist about the amount of sodium present in your medications, especially those purchased over the counter.

In response to last week's posting, P asked a very good question - exactly how much sodium is too much? The answer can vary depending on your own health circumstances, so speak to your doctor to get advice specific to your unique situation. With that in mind, general guidelines are to limit total sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day. This number has been quoted for some time, and experts are beginning to take another look, with many trending towards significantly lower intake recommendations on the order of no more than 1,200-1,500 mg sodium per day, even lower in some instances. The numbers take on additional significance in the setting of certain medical conditions, especially those that affect the heart and kidneys, where lowered sodium intake appears to be even more important.

The American Heart Association offers very good information on sodium, and you can find more at this web site.

Look for Harris Teeter's Wellness Keys when you shop, which can help you choose low sodium options for the foods you enjoy.

I hope this helps, P. Be well.
Dr. Russ

** Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. **

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