You probably don’t need to avoid sodium.

As long as you have a diet with sufficient potassium and no pre-existing hypertension, there is no reason to avoid or monitor sodium.

Let’s make this short and sweet as a solid go-to on the issue of this vital nutrient.

Many think of it as a matter of health that sodium should be avoided, as almost an “unhealthy additive” in food. Wrong. The key for sodium intake is context and moderation.

Sodium is an important nutrient for humans, helping to regulate blood pressure, blood volume, water retention and a number of other markers. Therefore, cutting sodium out of a healthy person’s diet directly opposes the primary goal: to promote and maintain health.

The idea of lowering dietary sodium arises from a method of treatment for hypertension (high blood pressure), which calls for reduction of dietary sodium to bring hypertension under control. The key in the case of sodium as it relates to blood pressure is to realize that in fact two nutrients work in balance to regulate blood pressure: sodium and potassium. Even in individuals with hypertension, an increase in potassium instead of a decrease in sodium may help bring the condition under control.

The application: In short, as long as you have a diet rich in potassium (Recommeded Daily Intake (RDI): 3500mg) , including foods like fish, avocados, and seeds, there is no reason to closely monitor sodium intake (RDI: 2400mg).

Individuals with hypertension may have what is known as “salt sensitive hypertension,” which causes exaggerated fluctuations in blood pressure with increases or decreases in sodium intake. However this too may be regulated simply by an increase in potassium intake, rather than resorting to severe cuts in dietary sodium.

Most people do not get enough daily potassium (RDI of 3500mg), so ensuring that you eat potassium-rich foods, along with daily multivitamin supplementation, is an important part of ensuring balanced potassium and sodium levels.

For the science heads:

More hypertension seen in lower sodium, higher sodium/potassium ratio diets (higher sodium but also higher potassium = less hypertension, though the reason why may be unclear): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2139217/

Thanks for reading guys. For answers to any more questions on this issue, hit up MASV Fitness through emailFacebookTwitter, or in the comment section below.

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