Nutrition & Dieting/low sodium


My daughter has just been put on a low sodium diet. My question is how low is low enough? How high is too high? What is the sodium limit? How much are you supposed to have in a day? Ok more than one question, but maybe you can help me anyway.

Hi Joyce,

Was it her regular medical doctor that put her on this diet? Was it for some type of medical condition or was it to improve her diet?

As a fitness and nutrition professional its my responsibility to tell you that I can't diagnose or treat any medical issue. I'm not trying to negate your question, just have to say that to be responsible.
I can't say any exact amount as to what is low enough as I don't know the whole story. What I will do is give you the gist of sodium on a general basis.

First and foremost, sodium is a necessary nutrient in the body. It seems that "experts" and the media want to preach about the harms of it every day. The fact is you can get too much or even too little. However it is vitally necessary. And in reality its hard to avoid. Just this past December I did a prep for a fitness contest. The prep involves depleting excess water in the body and you do this by gradually lowering sodium. When I got to the point where I was trying to keep it at its lowest, there was hardly anything I could eat. I went crazy in the grocery store for an hour reading labels.

The problem with identifying how much you need is that there is such a divided opinion. Different medical entities suggest anywhere from 1500-2300 mg a day. That's a huge difference.

Another factor is that salt and sodium are not one in the same as we are lead to believe. Sodium is an element and salt is a mineral. Salt is in essence a sodium compound comprised of about 40% sodium.

Too low of a sodium intake on a regular basis can lead to health issues like cardiovascular disease (UC Davis Study) and diabetes (1999 study)

Jim Stoppani PhD who in my opinion is the foremost expert on fitness and nutrition has found that the minimum sodium intake should be around 2000 mg. He puts the high end at 4000mg. Remember that this 4000 high number though is the border for serious health issues. For the generally healthy individual it is best to get somewhere in the middle. Of course this is removing factors like exercise volume and health issues.
The CDC found that the average American eats about 3400 mg a day. I'm just using that stat for the numbers and not for their opinions.

With this in mind speak with her doctor at length about what his/her concerns are and what they recommend.

Finally when looking at sodium guidelines from sources like the USDA, AHA, etc. do so knowing that they all have extremely varying opinions. And remember a lot of these organizations will make recommendations written on stone tablets, then 5 years later retract everything and say the exact opposite. Remember the 80s when they told us fat was the source of all evil in the world?

Sadly there is just too much conflict out there. So and so will report sodium is bad, then at the same time support medications that are proven to cause all kinds of nasty side effects.

So I hope I gave you some insight here. And I hope I didn't bore you with facts and figures.  

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Tim Santoro


I can answer questions regarding the following. Confusion about basic nutrition, explain how to improve diet, when and how to eat better, eating for weight loss, eating for health, eating for fitness. I will answer questions about nutritional and workout supplements. I will not endorse any fad diets, however I can explain the draw backs to them and explain why they are the wrong way to go. I will not give advice relating to medications and/or their interactions with food and supplements.


I have earned certifications in Fitness Training and Fitness Nutrition from ISSA. I also self taught and stay current on the fitness industry. I lost 70 pounds training my self.


SFN- Specialist in Fitness Nutrition from ISSA CFT-n Certified Fitness Trainer from ISSA

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