Can Too Much Sodium in My Diet Cause Headaches?

Too much sodium is bad for your health, but in most cases salt probably isn't to blame for your achy temples. Most people have headaches from time to time, and doctors can't fully explain 90 percent of them, according to Harvard Health Publications. Still, it's worth cutting back on sodium to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and temper any symptoms you might experience.

A spilt bottle of salt on a countertop. (Image: Diana Taliun/iStock/Getty Images)

Chinese Restaurant Syndrome

Headache is one of the symptoms of so-called Chinese Restaurant Syndrome, or MSG symptom complex. Some individuals experience dizziness, migraines, palpitations, numbness and other ill-effects after eating at restaurants that use monosodium glutamate as a flavor enhancer. The negative side effects associated with MSG are largely anecdotal, but it is possible that sodium in this form may contribute to your headache.

Busting Blood Pressure Myths

It's a common belief that high blood pressure causes headaches, but according to the American Heart Association, the opposite is true. Eating excessive an amount of sodium causes your body to retain water, which increases your blood pressure. Hypertension is mostly asymptomatic, but according to the association, individuals with high blood pressure report fewer headaches than the general population. But a headache may be a symptom of very high blood pressure known as a hypertensive crisis.

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