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Sodium Requirements and Dietary Sources

Mineral Glossary


Updated February 13, 2014

Salt and sodium

The most common form of sodium is table salt.

Anka Draganski

Sodium is a major mineral found in the fluid surrounding the cells in your body where it helps to regulate blood pressure and fluid volume, and it also helps maintain pH balance. Your muscles and nervous system also need sodium to function properly.

Daily Adequate Intakes

1 to 3 years: 1,000 milligrams per day
4 to 8 years: 1,200 milligrams per day
9 to 50 years: 1,500 milligrams per day
51 to 70 years: 1,300 milligrams per day
71+ years: 1,200 milligrams per day

The most common form of sodium is table salt, but at least a little bit of sodium occurs naturally in many foods. Significant sources include dairy products, beets, and celery. Processed foods usually contain a lot of sodium in the form of preservatives and flavor enhancers.

Sodium deficiency is rare because most diets contain two times the recommended levels. Getting too much sodium is associated with higher blood pressure and can increase calcium loss from your bones.

The Institute of Medicine suggests getting no more than 1,500 milligrams to 2,400 milligrams per day. Unfortunately, the typical daily Western diet contains around 3,000 to 5,000 milligrams.


Nutrition Fact Sheet: Sodium. Northwestern University. Accessed July 20, 2009. http://www.feinberg.northwestern.edu/nutrition/factsheets/sodium.html.

Otten JJ, Hellwig JP, Meyers LD. "Dietary Reference Intakes: The Essential Guide to Nutrient Requirements." IOM, 2006.

Sodium in diet. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Accessed July 20, 2009. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002415.htm.


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