Sodium is found in many things so supplements are not necessary

RDA is up to 1,600 milligrams. Healthy adults need between 70 and 460 mg of sodium a day. Official recommendations are that we eat no more than 6,000 mg of salt a day, (a little more than a teaspoonful).

Sodium is an essential mineral and nutrient. It is involved in regulating blood pressure and blood volume, helps muscle and nerves work properly, and is concerned in the water balance throughout the body. It regulates the acid/alkali balance along with other minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium.

You can convert sodium into salt by multiplying it by 2.4. Thus, 1,500 mg of sodium is equivalent to 3,600 mg of salt.

Sodium needs to balance with potassium, calcium and magnesium, and evolution has determined that we retain sodium and get rid of potassium.

Where do you get sodium?

In the form of salt or sodium chloride, it is available everywhere. Around 10% comes from root vegetables, milk and dairy products, oatmeal, celery and dried fruits.

Processed foods have salt added, sometimes in great quantity, e.g. breakfast cereals, bread, baked beans, smoked fish and fast food.

Too much sodium

Generally, we all get too much sodium in the form of salt. We love the taste of salt. But a high salt diet can cause fluid retention and puts strain on the kidneys and heart.

Some people are sensitive to salt and are likely to suffer from high blood pressure as a result.

Too little sodium

Lack of sodium is not a problem in the Western world. Salt depletion may be of concern in dehydration through sweat or diarrhoea. Lack of sodium could disrupt fat and glucose metabolism.

Sodium supplements

Since sodium is in many things we eat, supplements are unnecessary. Strenuous activity might cause a loss of 15,000 mg of sodium a day that should be replaced.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.