Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Harmful effects of Salt Intake

Salt (Photo credit: AloneAlbatross)

Harmful effects of Salt Intake

It is not that everyone is trying to incarcerate salt as a culprit. But the fact is, higher salt intake is linked to hypertension by several studies conducted worldwide.

Importance of Dietary Salt:

Sodium is essential for many vital functions at cellular level. It helps maintain fluid balance and plays a role in functioning of cardiovascular system, nervous system & digestive system.

How much salt do we need?

An average adult needs about 2-5 grams of salt per day, 2 grams being the minimum & 5 grams being the maximum requirement. (Actually we do not need salt. What we need is Sodium.) But average Indian adult in urban areas consumes around 9-12 grams salt per day, which is double of what we really need.

No wonder 23% men & 22% women above 25 years of age suffer from hypertension (WHO 2012 Statistics). India is already a Diabetic capital of the world & we are inching closer to become Hypertension capital as well.

How higher salt intake harms your body

Blood vessels:

In excess amounts, sodium leads to fluid retention in human body. This retained water increases the volume of blood increasing the blood pressure. Sodium also adversely affects the arteries & veins making them hard & inflexible.


Increase blood volume makes heart pump harder. This stressful work makes heart wear down early making the person a heart patient. Reduction in pumping capacity, blockage of blood vessels that supply blood to the heart muscles are few of the life threatening consequences of the such elevated blood pressure.


Blood supply to brain gets disrupted by hardening/narrowing of blood vessels increasing the chances of Stroke and bleeding in the brain (Brain Hemorrhage).

A group of participants, geographically dispersed & culturally diverse, who had higher than normal blood pressure, were subjected to a 2 week long study. On a first day, every one was given normal level of salt as per their own dietary habits. This salt content was gradually lowered over next two weeks & blood pressure of these participants was closely monitored. In 93% participants, blood pressure dropped to healthy ranges in a week's time.

Kidneys & Urinary system:

Higher sodium intake leads to higher sodium excretion which in turn increases calcium excretion in urine. This elevated levels of calcium in urine leads to formation of kidney stones

Higher salt intake responsible for osteoporosis:

Increased sodium excretion in urine excretion leads to increased calcium excretion increasing the mineral loss from bone and teeth

These are the known facts backed by the scientific research and it is pretty clear that higher salt intake has many harmful effects on our body.

Read my next post on.......

Why salt intake has increased in our diets

How to reduce salt intake