How much is too much salt?

More doubt on the healthy level of salt, but the government seems to be holding the line.  From The Washington Post,  More scientists doubt salt is as bad for you as the government says

For years, the federal government has advised Americans that they are eating too much salt, and that this excess contributes yearly to the deaths of tens of thousands of people.

But unknown to many shoppers urged to buy foods that are “low-sodium” and “low-salt,” this longstanding warning has come under assault by scientists who say that typical American salt consumption is without risk.

Moreover, according to studies published in recent years by pillars of the medical community, the low levels of salt recommended by the government might actually be dangerous.

“There is no longer any valid basis for the current salt guidelines,” said Andrew Mente, a professor at McMaster University and one of the researchers of a major study published last year by the New England Journal of Medicine. “So why are we still scaring people about salt?”

The government seems to be holding the line on 2,300 mg/day based on “science.”  The recommendations for African Americans and people over 50 are 1,500 mg/day.  Really?  That’s not for people with severe health problems but all of us in those groups?  No wonder they have the comment that Americans tend to ignore the guidelines.

They also have a curious statement: An average person who reduces his or her salt intake from median levels to the U.S. recommended levels may see a drop in blood pressure from 120/80 to 118/79, according to American Heart Association figures.    If you want that change, just take it again.  Can the staff in my doctor’s office make that fine a distinction?


22 responses to “How much is too much salt?

  1. i’m in the tropics, plus very humid area; and sweat far too much = losing lots of salt. Should I use same amount of salt as my doctor – who is constantly in air conditioned places, at home and work…?

  2. We’ve always been told that high salt intake increases the risk of hypertension. Are you saying that this is not true or there is just insufficient proof to prove that too much salt is bad for us?

  3. Me too Stefan – I don’t risk it.
    Some years back, someone decided that a Council outside workforce up here in Queensland was consuming too much salt. Not sure which one – could have been Isa, or one of the shires out west. So the team was put on a low-salt diet. Result was half of them off sick, muscle strain etc.

  4. funny how scientists can definitively state minuscule variations in BP have one single cause in everyone. AGW ‘science’ is starting to corrupt other disciplines as well i think

  5. The Fury of a Patient Man
  6. @Bob–
    You would think that these morons would be embarrassed by the absurd BP claims, which, of course, are within the repeatability of the method…only they’re not.

    Allow me to plagiarize myself…

    Several recent studies link lowered salt intakes to a variety of health problems, including low-birth weights and cognitive impairment in children, along with increased rate of falls and fractures among the elderly. In assisted living facilities, where all residents are given low-salt diets, the rate of falls and fractures are three times as great as in the normal home environment. But wait, there’s more.

    Low salt diets have been implicated in insulin resistance, congestive heart failure, iodine deficiency diseases, and an increase in all-cause morbidity and mortality.

    The widely touted super-healthy Mediterranean diet averages 4200 mg of sodium per day. Consider that a standard hospital saline IV drip, which supplies an average of three liters of 0.9 percent sodium chloride per day is equivalent to more than 10,000 milligrams of sodium per day, and this doesn’t include any dietary sodium. Yet, the patient’s blood pressure is routinely checked every four to six hours, and does not change.

    That’s right. You can disprove this anti-salt nonsense any day in any hospital in the world. One more health meme that refuses to die, even though it might kill you.

    Inasmuch as the American Heart Association is the leading proponent of low salt, please stop donating to those ghouls.

  7. “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” – H.L. Mencken
    Dietary sodium is just a favorite government hobgoblin – it is something that potentially affects everybody personally, has no major impact on political donor$, and because it is tied to health, something that people can worry about all their lives – all the more so as they get older.

  8. The argument is about what should be the minimum daily salt intake for a healthy person — it is not about dismissing salt as being potentially harmful to your health. Too much salt is bad business for many people and should not be the focus of discussion. If you have hypertension or kidney disease, salt restriction must become part of your lifestyle.

    Living in modern day America with the prepared meal and fast food menus that dominate our society, eating a low salt diet is very problematic. For example: Go to McDonald’s and eat a Big Breakfast with hotcakes = >2gm of salt. Or read the labels on the microwave box meals at the grocery store for salt content: most are >750mg of salt for small portions. Pizza = a salt bomb. Nobody consumes <1,500mg of salt/day unless you make a super conscious effort. The referenced article suggests that 10gm/day might be the norm. And there is an epidemic of high blood pressure? I have too many friends and relatives with high blood pressure.

    • @drcrinum–
      Drinking the Kool-Aid much?

    • @drcrinum–
      It would take me at least 5,000 words to deconstruct the utter garbage Batuman paper you cite. But suffice to say that anyone who cites the sicko and long-discredited Kempner as one of his references, betrays himself as a moron.

      Batuman’s own figures reveal that the effect of BP is minimal, if any.

      And BTW, who died and decreed that optimal BP for a 20-year-old must be the same in a 70-year-old? Sells more drugs, though.

      • While you are at it, why not elaborate on the cause of essential hypertension? Why does it affect about 75 million adults in the US? (Would this not be considered an epidemic?) Why is it that a significant portion of adult hypertensives are salt sensitive?

        Case illustration: A very dear friend of mine developed hypertension in his early 60s. Within a few years he was being treated by his internist with 3 different anti-hypertensive medications and still was not in good control regarding his blood pressure. At this point I read him the riot act: lose some weight, begin a modest exercise program, and throw away the salt shaker including the common high salt foods such as canned soup, microwave meals and pizza. So he began a low salt, low calorie diet and started walking 2 miles every morning. In 6 months he had lost 20 lbs and it was no longer necessary for him to take any blood pressure meds.

        Many adults with essential hypertension respond to a combination of dieting (weight loss and restricted sodium intake) + modest exercise. It doesn’t prove that a high salt diet leads to the development of essential hypertension, but guilt by association suggests that a high salt diet is a contributing factor in some people to the onset of essential hypertension.

        • @drcrinum–
          Clever. You want me to give the cause of essential hypertension which, by definition, has an unknown cause

          In the case of your friend, he lost weight, started to exercise, and…cut salt. Yeah, for sure, it was the salt that lowered his BP..

          You also neglected to mention just how hypertensive he was.

          ” but guilt by association suggests that a high salt diet is a contributing factor in some people to the onset of essential hypertension.” Right! How many weasel words in that sentence?

          • You have a very strong belief about salt, and I doubt that you are receptive to any information to the contrary. One needs to be aware of the basis for one’s beliefs though. Perhaps this article will give you some food for thought. I wish that I had read it many years ago — possibly I would have avoided several very costly mistakes in my life.


            • @drcrinum–
              I only became convinced when I read all the papers constantly cited in support of low salt, and was that there was no “there” there. That Kempner is *still* cited as an authority is mind-boggling. Do you know anything at all about this pervert and his work? And please spare me the condescension.

              You really want to meet a zealot? Try Larry Appel and hi fellow morons at the Institute of Medicine..

  9. OK. Here are two scrupulously researched articles I did from last year…

    Yes, friends, the low salt stuff is all BS. The govt is lying to you or protecting special interests? Hard to believe, I know.

  10. People with normal kidney function can eat as much salt as they like. That is probably more than 99% of the population. People with diminished kidney function need to watch their salt intake as excess salt will lead to fluid retention. Normal human physiology is a wonderfully self correcting system that has lots of chemical and osmotic sensors that tell people how much salt and water they need. It works in even the most primitive civilizations. All the blather about the need to monitor salt intake is much ado about nothing.

  11. Reblogged this on Liberalism is Trust Fucked with Prudence. Conservatism is Distrust Tainted with Fear and commented:
    This “NONE SENSE” leads to living metaphor. Before Israel begin exporting olive oil and Eurozone got flooded with Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece olive oil. Junkscience advocates forbidden olive oil. It was lethal. Today olive oil is nectar of god. Get over it. It’s a scam. Shutdown USDA they ain’t only bankrupting the world but fucking health.

  12. This “NONE SENSE” leads to living metaphor. Before Israel begin exporting olive oil and Eurozone got flooded with Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece olive oil. Junkscience advocates forbidden olive oil. It was lethal. Today olive oil is nectar of god. Get over it. It’s a scam. Shutdown USDA they ain’t only bankrupting the world but fucking health.

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