Have you noticed a lack of salt on dinner tables lately? It may be due the fact that we’ve been told time and time again to reduce how much salt and sodium we consume. Most of us know that a diet high in salt is related to ailments like hypertension, high blood pressure, and heart disease. We do have to be careful with salt, because around 75% of the salt we eat comes from packaged or ready-made foods. And even eating too little amounts of salt can cause problems. The Center for Disease Control reported that reducing salt intake to below one teaspoon per day might be dangerous to your health. But, it turns out there are also things that salt actually help us with. Read on to learn more.
Salt, Iodine and IQ
Most commonly found in saltshakers across America, iodized salt is good for the thyroid hormone, which aids in infant brain development. Goiter was a common disease in the U.S. in the early 20th century, particularly in the upper Midwest and Pacific Northwest. It was later found that sufferers in these areas were deficient in iodine, so the U.S. decided to adopt the practice of adding sodium iodide or potassium diode to salt used in cooking and at the dinner table. By 1924 the Morton Salt Company was distributing iodized salt across the nation and this led to an increase in 15 points on the average IQ scores in the affected regions.
Nowadays, iodine deficiency is rare in the U.S., but only about 70% of salt on American tables currently the iodized kind. This is because up to about five years ago, most people ingested plenty of iodine due to the machines, which produced dairy, meat, and bread. It turns out that those machines were cleaned with iodine disinfectant. However, since then, many food companies stopped using iodine disinfectant. so we making sure your diet has the proper amounts of iodine is essential.
Replacing Lost Electrolytes
Our bodies also need salt because we lose it through sweating every day and we need to replace it. The American Heart Association and National Institute of Health say that U.S. adults need to get 2,400 milligrams of sodium every day (that’s about one teaspoon of salt). Our bodies also need salt in electrolytes to assist with our muscles electrical impulses to help control many other functions in our bodies. Electrolytes are also our bodies’ thirst activator and make sure we all drink enough water. This water in turn allows our kidneys to provide us with the right amounts electrolytes in our blood.
Your nerves also need salt, as it helps stimulate muscle contraction and prevents them from cramping. If you are an athlete, you may remember taking salt pills, or know that modern sports drinks are full of salt for this very reason. Is it especially important to remember to have enough salt in your body in excessively hot weather so you don’t get sunstroke. Salt is also full of calcium and other useful minerals that help your whole body work better.
Eli Madrone is health and science writer based in Portland, OR. He learned about salt from a Dentist in Portland OR.