Lower Your Salt Intake? Fugetaboutit!

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Folks, I have written to you many times about the benefits of unrefined salt. Human beings are designed to desire and utilize salt on a daily basis. We can’t live without salt. Remember, we have no stores of salt in our bodies. Either we ingest adequate amounts of salt on a daily basis or we become salt deficient. Salt deficiency can manifest many ways but common symptoms of salt deficiency include muscle cramps (especially in the feet and legs), fatigue, headaches, and brain fog.

Let’s get a few salt numbers straight. The Powers-That-Be, including the American Heart Association and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics would have us all believe that we should limit salt in our diet. In fact, the current recommendations for salt state that we should have a maximum sodium intake of 1.5 to 2.4 grams per day (which is the equivalent of 1/4 to just over 1/3 of a teaspoon of salt). Finally, it is important to note that most of the world ingests between 3 and 6 grams of sodium per day (or 1/2 to 1 gram of salt).

A new article in the New England Journal of Medicine (August 14, 2014) studied the sodium levels in 101,945 persons from 17 countries. The scientists examined the association between sodium excretion and the outcome of death and major cardiovascular events. Sodium excretion correlates directly with sodium ingestion.

Over a mean follow-up of 3.7 years, the authors found that those with the lowest sodium excretion (less than 3 grams of sodium per day or ½ teaspoon of salt) had the highest rate of death or cardiovascular events—4.3%. Those who excreted 3-4 grams per day (just over ½ teaspoon of salt) had a cardiovascular incident rate of 3.1%–28% lower than the lowest salt-ingesting group. In fact, those who ingested more sodium, including the highest group (>7 grams per day or over 1 teaspoon of salt) had a 24% lowered death or cardiovascular event rate when compared to the lowest group (the incident rate in the highest group—7 grams per day–was 3.3%).

This article is another in a long-line of salt articles debunking the myth that we need to lower our salt intake. I have tested thousands of patients for their salt levels. I can assure you that the vast majority of patients are low in salt.

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