Sodium: the basics
Sodium is a nutrient found in table salt and many other foods. While some sodium is found naturally in food, most of it is added to our food to flavour and preserve it, or change its texture or structure.
You may have heard we need to cut down on how much sodium we're eating. It's true. Most Canadians, including children, eat too much sodium.
Too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, which may result in stroke, heart disease, and kidney disease.
Excess sodium intake is also linked to asthma, osteoporosis, and stomach cancer.
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How much sodium is recommended?
|Age||Recommended daily intake||Maximum|
Table 1 footnotes
|1-3 yearsTable 1 footnote 1||1,000 mg||1,500 mg|
|4-8 years||1,200 mg||1,900 mg|
|9-13 years||1,500 mg||2,200 mg|
|14-50 years||1,500 mg||2,300 mg|
|51-70 years||1,300 mg||2,300 mg|
|71+ years||1,200 mg||2,300 mg|
Note: Your healthcare professional may ask you to eat less sodium if you have a medical condition, such as high blood pressure, kidney disease, or diabetes.
On average, Canadians eat about 3400 mg of sodium per day. That's more than 1000mg above the daily maximum.
Top five food sources of sodium
Almost 80% of the sodium we eat comes from processed and packaged foods, not the salt shaker. Here's a list of the top five food sources of sodium:
- Mixed dishes such as macaroni & cheese, lasagne, beef stew, etc.
- Baked goods such as bread , buns, muffins, and biscuits
- Processed meat such as deli meat, hotdogs, seasoned meat, etc.
Quiz: Test your sodium knowledge
True or false?
Most of the sodium we eat comes from processed and packaged foods, not the salt shaker.
True. Almost 80% of the sodium we eat is from:
- processed foods such as deli meat, pizza, sauces, and soup
- packaged and ready-to-eat foods such as bread and frozen meals
- fast food and restaurant meals
Kosher salt, fleur de sel, and sea salt have the same amount of sodium as table salt.
True. And these salts aren't any healthier than table salt.
Your body needs some sodium to be healthy.
True. Sodium helps keep your body's fluids in balance. It also maintains your blood pressure, and keeps your muscles and nerves running smoothly.
For children, regularly eating foods high in sodium could lead to high blood pressure later in life.
True. In fact, salt should never be added to food for children under the age of one year.
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