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Click here to find out how much salt you as an individual need to be healthy

According to Wikipedia "salt is a mineral composed primarily of sodium chloride (Nack),a chemical compound belonging to the larger class of salts; salt in its natural form as a crystalline mineral is known as rock salt or halite. Salt is present in vast quantities in seawater, where it is the main mineral constitute. The open ocean has about 35 grams (1.2 oz) of solids per litre of sea water,a salinity of 3.5%." Salt is one of the oldest most ubiquitous food seasonings, and salting is an important method of food preservation. It is found in almost everything we need.

It is estimated that the body needs 186 mg of salt per day to function properly. It might be impossible to consume this little. Therefore the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends that healthy adults consume 1,500 mg (1.5 grams) of salt per day. Also, the IOM, USDA and the US Department of Health and Human services recommend that healthy adults limit their daily salt intake to less than 2,300 mg(2.3), which is equivalent to one teaspoon of salt. The WHO suggests consuming 2,000 mg (2 grams) of sodium per day and the American Heart Association advises a much lower intake of 1,500 mg (1.5 grams) per day.

Salt must be taken in the right proportion, not too much and not too little,as inadequate amount of sodium in your diet can also lead to low blood pressure (hypotension).

The health benefits of salt in our diet include the following: One, it helps the thyroid function properly and prevents low blood pressure. Two, it promotes healthy hydration levels and electrolyte balance necessary for the organs to function properly. Three, your nervous system and muscle contractions rely on sodium and chloride ions for regulation. Your cells, muscles, and tissues need water, and salt helps these parts of the body maintain the right amount of fluid. Inadequate hydration can cause dehydration, making you more susceptible to muscle cramps, dizziness, and fatigue. Four, salt is essential for digestion and absorption of your food. When your taste buds taste salt in your food,an enzyme called salivary amylase is secreted in your mouth that helps in breaking down your food.

While salt may be nature's antidepressants,as sodium levels rise in the blood, the kidneys produce more of a feel-good hormone called oxytocin, which lowers blood pressure,pain and anxiety levels.

Consumption of too much of salt can be harzadous to the body. Some of the harms it causes to the body are:

•High blood pressure

• Fluid retention

• It increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases

To avoid all the diseases mentioned above, reduce your salt intake by cooking with the right amount of salt. Check labels of canned and packed food, especially soup, pasta sauce and canned vegetables, for the quantity of sodium in them.

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IOM Institute of Medicine Nack US Department of Health and Human services USDA

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