Sodium chloride, also known as salt, helps maintain a proper fluid balance in your body. It is also used to preserve food. The sodium portion of salt is most relevant for your health, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. While you need a significant amount of sodium daily -- up to 1,500 milligrams -- to stay healthy, eating more than 2,300 milligrams -- about a teaspoon of table salt -- can be harmful.
Raises Your Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the measurement of force of blood pushing against the artery walls as the heart pumps blood. A high-salt diet can increase your blood pressure because salt holds excess fluid in your body and creates an added burden on your heart. If your blood pressure increases and remains high for a long period of time, the tissue that constitutes the walls of your arteries gets stretched beyond its normal limit, creating problems such as increased risk of blood clots, vascular scarring, vascular weaknesses and increased workload on your circulatory system.
Makes You Vulnerable to Kidney Stones
Kidney stones can form when substances, such as phosphorus, calcium and oxalate, in the urine become overly concentrated. When you consume a diet high in salt, sodium present in salt causes your kidneys to excrete more calcium in your urine. Extra calcium in your urine combines with phosphorus and oxalate and forms calcium phosphate and calcium oxalate stones. The risk of kidney stones increases with increased daily salt consumption. Symptoms of kidney stones include blood in the urine, urine blockage and intense pain in the back or side.
Increases Your Risk for Osteoporosis
To compensate for the loss of calcium in your urine due to a high salt intake, your body may extract calcium from your bones, leading to higher rates of bone mineral loss. This increases the risk of osteoporosis, a disease that weakens your bones to the point that they break easily. Although anyone can develop the disease, it is most common among older women. Also, osteoporosis is a silent disease because bone loss occurs without any noticeable symptoms. You may not be aware that you have the disease until a sudden fall or strain causes your bone to break.
Elevates Your Risk of Stroke
A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that transports nutrients and oxygen to your brain is blocked by a clot. As a consequence, part of your brain cannot receive the oxygen and blood it requires and its cells die. The raised blood pressure caused by ingesting too much salt may increase the risk of stroke. High blood pressure can destroy arteries throughout your body. Weakened arteries in your brain put you at an increased risk for stroke.
- FDA Consumer Updates - U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Lowering Salt in Your Diet
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: What Is High Blood Pressure?
- American Heart Association: Understand Your Risk for High Blood Pressure
- American Heart Association: What Is High Blood Pressure?
- National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Diet for Kidney Stone Prevention
- Cleveland Clinic: Kidney Stones
- Journal of Nephrology: Unravelling the Links Between Calcium Excretion, Salt Intake, Hypertension, Kidney Stones and Bone Metabolism
- NIH Senior Health: What Is Osteoporosis?
- American Heart Association: Stroke and High Blood Pressure