How much Salt should one eat ?

Salt has a direct effect on blood pressure of a person, which makes it more important to be taken in controlled amount. But how much amount of salt should be taken by a healthy person to keep his/her blood pressure within normal range ? We will try to answer this question in this article. Usually the salt we eat is Sodium chloride (NaCl). But Sodium and Chlorine are not the only components in it. There are various other minerals and one them is Iodine. All components of the table salt are important for our body.

The salt that is prepared by evaporating the sea water is composed of following chemical compounds.

  • Sodium chloride 77.76 %
  • Magnesium chloride 10.88 %
  • Magnesium sulfate 4.74 %
  • Calcium sulfate 3.60 %
  • Potassium chloride 2.46 %
  • Magnesium bromide 0.22 %
  • Calcium carbonate 0.34 %

Apart from the above minerals Iodine is usually mixed in it to save people from thyroid related diseases.

All of the chemical compounds listed above are necessary for our body and so does salt. But the question is how much is sufficient and which amount can make us sick.

How much Salt should one eat ?
2300 mg of sodium is present in one teaspoon or 6 grams of salt which is adequate for an adult per day. According to some surveys today an average person is eating 8 to 9 grams of salt per day which is around 50% more than required. According to WHO 5g of salt per day is sufficient for an adult.

Why do our body need salt ?
On an outer level salt is necessary for taste. But if we look at our body internally then Sodium ions play an important role in electrical signalling of our nervous system. Salt is also necessary for Water/Fluid balance within our body. Blood sodium level of our body should be always between 135 and 145 mEq/L (milliequivalents per liter).

What are the harmful effects of overeating of salt ?

  • Increased Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Long term overeating of salt can lead to high blood pressure.
  • Hypernatremia: If blood sodium level reaches above 145 mEq/L then brain cell shrinkage may occur and cause confusion, muscle twitching or spasms. Seizures and comas may occur in this medical condition.
  • Death may occur if salt is consumed is very large amount of more than 1 g per kg of body weight.
  • Edema (fluid retention) may occur due to high salt intake, but this condition can be reversed by lowering your salt intake.
  • Stomach Cancer: Stomach cancer is related to high level of sodium in body.

Effects of lack of Salt in our diet ?

  • If an adult eats less than 3g of salt per day then it can lead to cardiovascular diseases and early death.
  • Hyponatremia: If blood sodium level falls below 135 mEq/L then it causes brain cells to swell which results in altered personality, lethargy, and confusion. Seizures, coma, and death may occur if blood sodium level falls below 115 mEq/L. Hyponatremia may occur if a person consumes very large amount of water without any salt intake, which is known as Water Poisoning.

Salt is a highly necessary content of a balanced diet and getting it in too high or too low amount can cause side-effects on your health. So be health conscious and eat it in the prescribed amount. 
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