There is much confusion about the use and need for salt…do we actually need salt? Why is there iodine in salt? Is salt, and sodium, the same?
Sodium, one of the components of salt, is actually an important nutrient that is required by our bodies for nerve function, maintaining a healthy blood pressure, body fluid balance, and even muscle function. However, when we overuse salt (and most Americans do), it can lead to a number of health concerns and problems including elevated blood pressure, fluid retention and swollen extremities, plus recent research is showing a very possible link to having a negative impact on brain function.
QUESTION…The words salt and sodium are often interchanged, but are they the same?
ANSWER…Salt is a compound containing both Sodium and Chloride. The salty taste comes from Chloride, and the Sodium is the element the body needs, but can cause problems, depending on it’s use, or abuse.
QUESTION…How much salt do we need?
ANSWER…A typical American diet shows we consume 3400mg per day. The American Heart Association states we should use no more than 2300mg per day, and a total limit of 1500mg for those with specific health issues, with HBP (high blood pressure) being the most common…your health care professional can advise on your requirements.
QUESTION…Why is Iodine in my table salt?
ANSWER…Iodine was first added to table salt in 1924…Iodine is added to prevent Goiter, and to maintain Thyroid function. There was actually a “Goiter epidemic ” in the 1920’s, and the Government and health community decided that Iodine could easily be added to table salt that was sitting in a salt shaker on every dinner table across the entire country.
QUESTION…Does all salt contain Iodine?
ANSWER…No, Iodine is added to salt, but not all salt. You can even purchase “Iodine free” salt if you have a health concern concerning Iodine. Many of the so named “Designer Salts”, such as Sea Salt, Himalayan Salt, Pink Salt, etc., do not have Iodine added…check the label.
QUESTION…Are any of these “Designer Salts” better for my body that regular table salt…are they higher in nutrients that I need.
ANSWER…Sorry to say but “Designer Salts” are not as loaded with nutrients as the media would have you believe. Let me back up here and give you the full picture…Table Salt and Sea Salt are processed and basically stripped of their nutrients, and other ingredients can also be added to increase flow and and prevent the salt from clumping. The elemental minerals are usually left intact in Sea Salt, Himalayan Salt, Pink Salt, etc. but they occur in minor amounts. So, if you are using one of these specialty salts just to add these specific trace minerals, then it is not really worth ingesting the additional sodium, and certainly not recommended. I use Himalayan salt in my home when a recipe calls for a pinch of salt for flavor, and I know that Dr. Lange uses the same when he cooks.
FACT…over 70% of sodium in the American diet comes from processed foods, packaged foods and restaurant food, not directly from the salt shaker. So what does this mean to the consumer? We need to be aware of the hidden salt that is in our foods as both a flavor enhancer and preservative. A typical deli style lunch with sandwich, potato chips and a pickle can often contain more sodium in one meal than we require in an entire day.
TIP…do not salt your food before tasting it…you may be amazed that you really don’t need that salt shaker after all.
TIP…if you are concerned about excess salt in your diet,try one of the low sodium salt substitures… all the taste, but without the added sodium in your diet.
I hope this information has been helpful…Dr. Lange and I suggest you discuss your concerns about sodium, iodine, high blood pressure, thyroid issues, etc with your health care professional.
Be well my friend,
Dr. Richard Hall PhD SNS CPT
Fortifeye Performance Nutrition