Sodium: An Essential Dietary Nutrient

Sodium is a nutrient that is essential to human life. Essential nutrients must be consumed daily through foods and beverages for two primary reasons: so the body may work properly and because the body cannot generate sufficient quantities on its own. Sodium plays a key role in muscle contraction, nerve conduction and water balance in the body. These are critical to bodily function and the maintenance of our blood pressure.

The primary source of sodium in the diet is salt (sodium chloride), which has been a safe part of our diet for millennia. The human body has a natural appetite for salt due to its uniquely appealing taste and role in balancing overall flavor. It also helps shape desired texture and aids in food preservation and food safety for certain foods.

However, despite sodium’s role as an essential nutrient, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are jointly released by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, recommends most Americans limit their intake to 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. And for adults with prehypertension and hypertension who would particularly benefit from blood pressure lowering, the recommendation is 1,500 mg sodium per day.

Consumers who wish to reduce their sodium intake should be able to access both fresh and processed foods that can meet their sodium needs. At Morton Salt, we fully support food processors as they consider reduced-sodium formulations.

Food processors can provide options relevant to emerging recommendations for health and nutrition.
 • See the 2015 Dietary Guidelines on the U.S. Department of Health website.