Sodium, as a mineral, is essential to several critical bodily functions. Contrary to popular belief, sodium and salt are not the same things, and are often confused with each other. While it is essential, sodium can also be dangerous when consumed outside of its healthy levels. As this mineral is found in most common foods, it is important to learn how much is too much, as well as the common dangers associated with increased levels of sodium intake.
How much sodium is in common foods?
Between processed food, fast food, and general misunderstandings surrounding sodium intakes, most North Americans consume much more than they need. Health Canada recommends that adults between the ages of 14 and 50 should aim for a daily intake of 1500mg without going over 2300mg, those between 51 and 70 should aim for 1300mg, and those above 71 should aim for 1200mg daily, also without going over the 2300mg limit.
Generally speaking, consuming over 2300mg daily poses serious health risks for anyone. Some common high-sodium foods are beef hot dogs (510mg), white bread (170mg per slice), ham (1000mg), salted potato chips (1200mg per bag) and canned chicken noodle soup (1400mg).
Some common low-sodium foods include orange juice (0mg per tablespoon) tomatoes (6mg), brown rice (10mg per cup), and unsalted potato chips (18mg per bag). Try to aim for low-sodium foods and read the nutrition labels carefully. All adults, and especially those who participate in high endurance or intense physical activity on a regular basis, should make sure to keep their sodium intake at a healthy level.
Blood pressure is generally the term used to describe the force with which blood is pushed through the body and against the walls of arteries. The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute suggests that along with leading an active lifestyle, adults should lower their daily intake of sodium in order to maintain a healthy blood pressure and avoid the possibilities of hypertension. Ideal blood pressure numbers are between 120-80 for adults. High blood pressure can lead to many bodily damages, including those to your heart.
Linus Pauling Institute: Micronutrient Information
National Heart Lung and Blood Institute: What is High Blood Pressure?
Health Canada: Sodium in Canada