Daily Salt Intake: How Much Salt Per Day?

Excessive salt consumption can lead to many health problems. Many people add too much salt to meals and drinks, saying their taste buds are accustomed to salty foods. Although this situation pleases people in terms of taste, it brings great health risks. Controlling salt consumption and not consuming excessive salt contributes significantly to the general health of the person.

Daily Salt Intake: How Much Salt Per Day?

The salt we use daily is a substance containing 40% sodium and 60% chlorine. When evaluating salt consumption, especially the sodium in the salt is taken as a basis. Small amounts of sodium are needed in the body for issues such as nerve conduction, muscle contraction and relaxation, and water and electrolyte balance. If more sodium is consumed than the body needs, some undesirable situations may occur. Therefore, the amount of salt that should be consumed daily is calculated by taking into account the body’s salt need and the kidneys’ capacity to filter excess sodium.

The maximum amount of daily salt intake for adults is 6 grams. 6 grams of salt equals approximately 1 teaspoon. 6 grams of salt contains approximately 2.4 grams of sodium. When shopping for food at the market, it will be useful to look at the sodium value in the nutritional values ​​section and keep daily sodium consumption under control.

The daily salt intake in children aged 1-3 should not exceed 2 grams, and in the age group 4-6, it should not exceed 3 grams. For those aged 7-10, daily salt consumption should be at most 5 grams. The maximum amount of salt that can be consumed daily for ages 11 and above is 6 grams, as in adults. 

Since kidney development is not yet sufficient in babies under 1 year of age, daily salt intake should not exceed 1 gram. Salt should not be added to soups, yoghurts and purees prepared for children who start complementary feeding. Additionally, children in this age group should be kept away from processed foods due to their high salt content. In babies fed with breast milk or formula, their mineral needs are met through milk or formula.

To keep daily salt intake under control, it is necessary to avoid eating very salty foods. Foods containing high amounts of salt can be listed as follows:

  • Cheese
  • Pickle
  • bacon, sausage
  • Beef/chicken broth bouillon
  • Olive
  • Ayran
  • salted nuts
  • Anchovy and similar fish with high salt content
  • Bread
  • sauces

These foods contain high amounts of salt and are widely consumed in society. It would be beneficial to limit the consumption of these foods and choose varieties made with less salt. Processed foods are also products with a high salt content. Salt is used abundantly in the production of packaged foods because it prevents food from spoiling and increases shelf life. Processed/packaged foods with high salt content can be listed as follows:

  • crackers, chips
  • Delicatessen products such as salami and sausages
  • Pizza
  • Canned soups, stews
  • pasta sauces
  • breakfast cereals
  • Ketchup, mayonnaise and other sauces
  • Fast food products such as burgers and fries

Considering the health problems caused by salt consumption, some practices have been implemented by authorized institutions. These include reducing the amount of salt in bread and restricting the amount of salt in milk and dairy products such as cheese. It would be beneficial for people to support these practices and choose foods with reduced salt.

Consuming too much salt is something people of all ages should avoid. Awareness of salt consumption is less, especially in children and young people. However, it is necessary to explain to young people that they should not consume too much salt in the early stages of life and to make them adopt this idea. In this way, young people can be protected from health problems caused by excessive salt consumption.

What are the Harmful Effects of Excessive Salt Consumption?

The harms of excess salt can be examined under two headings: early and late periods. Early effects are generally more easily reversible. However, dealing with long-term effects can be more challenging.

When a high amount of salt is consumed during the day or at a meal, a person may feel bloated. This is because the kidneys try to adjust the water and salt balance in the body. The body begins to retain water to balance the salt taken from outside. As a result, the person may experience swelling and swollen hands and feet.

One of the early effects of excessive salt consumption is an increase in blood pressure. After a meal containing mostly salty foods, water retention in the body will increase, resulting in an increase in the blood volume circulating in the veins. This situation causes an increase in blood pressure. However, researchers noticed that the increase in blood pressure after a salty meal is not the same in everyone.

While there is no change in blood pressure in some people, a significant increase may be observed in some people. A person’s response to increased salt in the body is affected by genetic and hormonal factors. It has been determined that the increase in blood pressure after salt consumption is more pronounced in people who have obesity problems or are in the older age group.

Another early effect of excessive salt consumption is thirst. After a salty meal, the person’s thirst center is stimulated to balance the salt intake in the body. By consuming water and similar liquids, the water and salt balance in the body is tried to be restored. Especially in older people, situations such as improper stimulation of the thirst center and limited fluid intake lead to increased sodium in the blood.

This condition, called hypernatremia, is quite serious. Hyponatremia that cannot be detected and treated early; It can lead to consequences such as confusion, seizure, coma and even death.

The most well-known long-term effect of excessive salt consumption is that it increases blood pressure. The increase in blood pressure, which is a short-term effect of excessive salt consumption, may become permanent if the same behavior is repeated. In this case, people may have hypertension.

Hypertension can cause symptoms such as heart rhythm disturbances, headaches, visual disturbances, nosebleeds, dizziness, and excessive sweating. Serious health problems may occur in people with hypertension if appropriate treatment is not given and blood pressure is not controlled. These people have an increased risk of many different problems such as cardiovascular diseases, kidney diseases and stroke.

Therefore, it would be beneficial to limit salt consumption to protect against blood pressure disease. In addition, when people who already have blood pressure reduce their daily salt consumption, there is a serious decrease in blood pressure. Therefore, blood pressure patients can contribute to their treatment by keeping their salt consumption under control, as well as the medications prescribed by the doctor.

There are also studies showing that excessive salt consumption increases the risk of stomach cancer. Although the mechanism underlying this situation has not yet been fully elucidated, it has been observed that salty eating habits cause damage to the layer that protects the stomach and, as a result, increases the risk of inflammation and ulcer formation in the stomach.

What are the symptoms of excessive salt consumption?

People are often unaware that they consume excessive salt. Excessive salt consumption is an issue that is usually noticed when hypertension is diagnosed. However, some symptoms may indicate that the person consumes high amounts of salt. These symptoms are as follows:

  • Constant feeling of bloating
  • recurring headaches
  • Constant feeling of thirst
  • frequent urination
  • Swelling and edema in fingers, toes and wrists

If you have one or more of these symptoms, it would be useful to go to the nearest health institution and have your blood pressure measured. High blood pressure patients can also control their blood pressure by keeping their salt consumption within specified ranges. It should not be forgotten that blood pressure disease can cause serious health problems such as heart attack and stroke in the long term, and its treatment should be done without interruption.

Abbas Jahangir

I am a researcher and writer with a background in food and nutritional science. I am the founder of Foodstrend.com, our reputable online platform offering scientifically-backed articles on health, food, nutrition, kitchen tips, recipes, diet, and fitness. With a commitment to providing accurate and reliable information, we strive to empower our readers to make informed decisions about their health and lifestyle choices. Join us on Foodstrend.com's journey toward a healthier and happier lifestyle.

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