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How toxic is sodium for your body?

I know that sodium increases the risk of hypertension, but I want to know generally how toxic it is to the average person. What does sodium do to your body when you consme it?

Wed. May 30, 12:57pm

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Sodium is not toxic for your body. It is involved in nerve signaling and muscle function, mineral balance and nutrient absorption. Your body nees about 4 grams of salt a day (which breaks down into sodium and chloride in your body). Athletes need more because of the excess lost in sweating. Granted, most Americans consume about 3 times what they need, but it should not be eliminated from your diet. But it's in so many things that we eat already, just don't go pouring it on top of your food and you should be fine.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007, 1:53 PM

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No, no, no!

While sodium is not toxic in small amounts, the amount needed by your body is MUCH lower than the 1:53 poster. You only need 1/4 to 1/2 gram per day. It is very hard to design a diet from natural foods that contains less than that. Possibly an all rice diet.

"The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating only 1 teaspoon of salt per day, which is less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium. This includes ALL salt and sodium eaten. Currently Americans consume an average of 4,000 mg per day, almost double the recommended amount.

Consuming a diet of 1,500 mg of sodium has even better blood pressure lowering benefits. People over fifty years of age, African Americans, and people with chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and kidney disease should consume less salt. The minimum sodium required is 250-500 mg per day."


Wednesday, May 30, 2007, 3:35 PM

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Hypernatremia - excess of salt in proportion to body water

Apparently more common in cases of dehydration, though there are cases of children with pica eating too much salt.

"Clinical manifestations of hypernatremia can be subtle, consisting of lethargy, weakness, irritability, and edema. With more severe elevations of the sodium level, seizures and coma may occur."

Of course most ingestion of excess sodium is at a much lower level and the effects more long term. Although the stroke will seem pretty acute when it happens.


Wednesday, May 30, 2007, 3:49 PM

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1:53 poster here

Apologies 3:35 poster, the "4 grams" number was intended to go under how much an average American consumes. Thanks for catching that. And while 2.3 grams is the recommended upper limit, 250 mgs is the minimum amount your body needs to function, not necessarily what you should be consuming. Most recommendations I've seen for minimums trend toward 500 mgs and suggest daily intake around 1.5 grams, with slighly less for older adults. My personal opinion is people should aim between the two extremes.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007, 4:03 PM

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4:03 Glad that was a mistake. I wouldn't even try to aim for the minimum 250 to 500. I occasionally get under 1000 mg on days when I have no added salty food such as salsa, hot sauce, canned foods, etc. It's really quite difficult to eat a diet as low as the minimum, and since AFAIK most people get all the benefits of low sodium at 1000 to 1500 mg, that seems reasonable. Of course, as you noted, most get much more. I have heard that people with migraines can usually avoid them if they get sodium intake below 1000mg/day, and I don't have them very often at all anymore now that I'm almost always in the low 1000s.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007, 4:27 PM

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how this helped me.

im in 7th grade give me some credit..
we are doing a progect and my thing was soduim and i got all my info off this website.
schools should use this more often...



Monday, May 05, 2008, 11:19 AM

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Sodium is the most abundant cation in your extracellular fluid - it is the reason water can move in and out of your cells. Too much or too little is toxic (hyponatrimia causes your body to literally flood).

Monday, May 05, 2008, 11:41 AM

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