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More about Sodium. Why most of us need more salt, not less.

For a few people, intake of salt (sodium chloride) appears to be linked to the condition of high blood pressure (hypertension); however, only about 9 per cent of the population is sodium sensitive, the rest probably actually need sodium.

New research suggests that the real culprit in causing high blood pressure, is a diet low in calcium, potassium and magnesium intake, not the level of salt you take. 

Sodium sensitivity means that blood pressure increases in response to increased sodium consumption. The remainder of the population appears to be sodium resistant, meaning that their blood pressure does not rise even with excess sodium consumption. Thus, since the majority of people don't need to reduce their sodium intake, one group of scientists wonder why we should badger the public about it. Another group, however, argues that while most people may never be harmed by excess sodium, we may need to be cautious.

One good reason for such caution is that it is impossible to know who is and who isn't sensitive to sodium until hypertension develops. Moreover, several studies have demonstrated that sodium sensitivity increases with age. Therefore, while you may not be sodium sensitive now, you could become so in the future. It is also possible that the genetic resistance to sodium is weakened by chronically high sodium intake over a lifetime and by other factors such as stress and heredity.

Cystic fibrosis patients tend to excrete much more sodium in their sweat than normal and may thus develop a sodium deficiency. However, most people eating a western diet will usually ingest sufficient sodium to meet these requirements.

Find out about magnesium and blood pressure

Find out more about Sodium

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