One teaspoon of salt contains 2,335 mg of sodium, a content larger than the upper recommendations from the Institute of Medicine. Your body needs sodium to function. It keeps fluids and other electrolytes balanced in your body and is essential for muscular contractions and nervous cell communications. However, too much sodium can be detrimental to your health. Keep your sodium intake and sodium blood levels in a healthy range.
Adequate Intake Levels
The Institute of Medicine does not give a recommended daily intake of sodium. Instead, it classifies sodium recommendations at adequate intake levels. An adequate intake level is the amount of sodium your body needs to perform all of the functions that sodium can in the body. For people ages 9 to 50 years old, the adequate intake is 1,500 mg per day. For children 1 to 3 years old, adequate intake is 1,000 mg of sodium each day. Kids 4 to 8 years old need 1,200 mg of sodium. Those age 51 to 70 should get 1,300 mg per day, and those over 71 need 1,200 mg each day.
Tolerable Upper Intake
The tolerable upper intake level of sodium is the highest amount of sodium the Institute of Medicine recommends consuming without any adverse health effects. Individuals age 14 and over should not exceed 2,300 mg of sodium per day.
Sodium can cause and worsen high blood pressure, or hypertension, so it is essential that those diagnosed with hypertension monitor their sodium intake levels. The DASH diet, a diet aimed at lowering sodium intake to control blood pressure, instituted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, urges hypertensive patients to reduce sodium intake to 1,200 to 1,500 mg per day.
Blood Sodium Levels
A sodium blood test measures the amount of sodium relative to water. This is a blood test your doctor might decide to do if he or she suspects you have an abnormal sodium balance. The normal blood sodium level for a healthy adult is between 135 to 145 milliequivalents per liter, according to the National Institutes of Health.
- "Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010"; U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2010
- "Your Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure with DASH"; USDA; 2006
- Medline Plus: Sodium -- Blood
- "Nutrition: Concepts and Controversies"; Frances Sizer and Eleanor Whitney; 2004
- Mayo Clinic.com; Sodium -- How to Tame Your Salt Habit Now