Nutritional needs: Dietary Sodium

  • Normal Sodium Requirement – 2 grams.
  • Salt is 40% Na and 60 % Chloride.
  • 1tsp of salt = 5 gm of Nacl = 2 gm of Na
  • Sodium is water soluble hence 100% of dietary Na is absorbed in intestines.
  • About 90 percent of the sodium consumed in the average diet is in excess of body needs and must be eliminated in the urine.
  • No specific RDA for sodium.
  • The Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs suggests about 5 grams of salt, which provides about 2 grams of sodium, per day.
  • Body salt maintenance = 0.5 gm
  • Extra care for active exercisers.
  • The human body needs very minute amounts of sodium to function normally. We need only 250 mg of sodium each day, athletes maybe 500 mg., which is easily supplied by natural, unprocessed foods.


  • Undoubtedly, some of you have noticed that FDA food labels list grams (or milligrams) of sodium, and at times in this article, I have referred to grams of salt. What is the difference? Salt is made up of sodium and chloride.
  • The FDA labels lists only the sodium content. This is because there are usually other sodium containing salts (eg. sodium citrate) in these products.
  • To avoid confusion, the easiest way to ensure that you have enough sodium intake is to get used to reading the FDA labels. For example to get 1 gram (1000mg) of sodium into your body, you would need to drink more than half a gallon (2.18 liters) of Gatorade — certainly impractical every hour! To get 1 gram of sodium from table salt, you would need to ingest 2.5 grams (1 gram from sodium, 1.5 grams from chloride). A teaspoon of salt weighs approximately 6.6 grams.