Do you need to cut back on sodium? Harvard Women's Health Watch answers

Published: November, 2009

It makes sense for people with high blood pressure to cut back on the amount of sodium they consume, since blood pressure is directly related to sodium in the diet. But what about the rest of us? The November 2009 issue of Harvard Women's Health Watch addresses this question and discusses ways to lower sodium intake.

Most of the sodium in our diet comes from salt, or sodium chloride. The body needs some sodium to transmit nerve impulses, contract and relax muscle fibers, and maintain proper fluid balance. The recommended daily sodium intake for healthy adults is no more than 1,500 to 2,300 milligrams (mg)—about the amount in two-thirds of a teaspoon to one teaspoon of table salt. But the average American gets 3,400 mg a day.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise

New subscriptions to Harvard Health Online are temporarily unavailable. Click the button below to learn about our other subscription offers.

Learn More »