Definition: 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: 1.0 g per day
4 to 8 years: 1.2 g per day
9 to 50 years: 1.5 g per day
51 to 70 years: 1.3 g per day
71+ years: 1.2 g 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.
Most diets contain more than enough sodium, so deficiency is rare. Getting too much sodium in your diet 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 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.