Spilled salt shaker

Guidelines for healthy sodium intake

Reviewed by Kathleen Haynes, PharmD at Wellspring Pharmacy.

Salt (a.k.a sodium) is an important part of a well-balanced diet, and is essential in small amounts. 

Sodium helps your body function properly by helping maintain the correct balance of fluids in your body, assisting in transmitting nerve impulses, and influencing the contraction and relaxation of muscles. But too much sodium in a diet can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease. 

The average American consumes about 3,300 mg per day. To function properly, your body only needs less than 2,300 mg a day of sodium. Individuals over age 51 with high blood pressure, diabetes and chronic kidney disease should limit daily consumption to 1,500 mg.

According to the CDC, about 65 percent of sodium consumed comes from processed foods. Other sources of hidden sodium are bread, cold cuts, pizza, cheese and soups. 

Here are some easy ways to avoid consuming excess sodium: 

  • Cook at home.
  • Eat more fresh food, especially fruits and vegetables.
  • Use herbs, spices and other seasonings besides salt.
  • Remove salt from recipes where possible.

For more information about sodium, visit a Wellspring pharmacy near you to speak with a pharmacist.