Sodium intake in the United States regularly exceeds the recommended daily amount of less than 2300 milligrams. Since sodium makes up about 40% of salt, this amount is about a tea spoon of table salt a day.
There is about 4500 milligrams of sodium in a typical western diet, but this truly depends on the region where you live in. Since the body only requires 500 milligrams of sodium per day, this means many of us are taking almost ten times what we need. However, it’s not practical to only consume the body biological requirement. Sodium is in a lot of different foods, so it’s really practical (almost impossible) to reduce your sodium intake to that minimum requirement.
Along with this problem of sodium overconsumption is the under-consumption of its “antagonist”: potassium. Higher potassium intake helps to lower blood pressure by blunting the effects of sodium. Diets rich in potassium are also associated with a reduced risk of developing kidney stones as well as reduction of bone lose with age.
What are the functions of these wonderful electrolytes? Sodium and potassium are necessary for the regulation of blood and other fluids, they stimulate the action of muscular activity, proper gland function and heart activity. They are also really important for maintaining what is called the electrochemical gradients. Sodium is essential for hydration because it pumps water into your cells. Potassium functions in the pumping of byproducts or waste products out of the cell. They really serve as the body’s fluid regulator and waste product regulator.
How much sodium and potassium do I need? I cannot stress this enough: in general, healthy adults should consume no more than 2300 milligrams of sodium per day. African Americans, individuals from middle age or older and individuals with high blood pressure should aim to consume no more 1500 milligrams per day.
What about potassium? The recommended amount for adults is 4700 milligrams. You can see that you need much more potassium than sodium.
Sources of Sodium (try to avoid them as much as you can if you are a normal healthy adult):
|1 teaspoon of salt||2300 milligrams|
|1 cup cottage cheese, 2% fat||746 milligrams|
|2 slices ham, extra lean||601 milligrams|
Great Sources of Potassium:
|1 medium sweet potato, baked||694 mg|
|1 medium potato, baked, with skin||610 milligrams|
|1 banana||467 milligrams|
|1 cup milk, 1%–2% fat||366 milligrams|
|1 cup broccoli, steamed||505 milligrams|
|1 cup tomatoes||399 milligrams|
|1 cup carrots, raw||394 milligrams|