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Sodium Part II:  15 True, New, and Surprising Factoids!

by Mila McManus, MD

In our August newsletter , we questioned if sodium, or salt, is really bad for you and answered a resounding NO. Salt is important! First, the body requires sodium. Second, sodium must be understood in the context of potassium levels. And finally, not all salts are the same. Purchasing quality salt matters [e.g., Redmond’s Real Salt™, Himalayan Pink Salt from Pakistan].

This week, we continue with true, new, and surprising factoids about sodium[i] that you need to know!

Salt cravings are biologically normal, just like our thirst for water. We should pay attention to our salt cravings and respond by increasing our salt intake.

  • Sugar cravings are not biologically normal, causing fat accumulation, insulin resistance, chronic inflammation, oxidative stress, and mitochondrial damage.
  • A high sugar diet increases your need for salt, and satisfying your salt cravings may be a key to kicking your sugar cravings. 
  • Salt restriction/depletion increases LDL and total cholesterol levels.
  • Salt restriction/depletion causes insulin resistance and sugar cravings.
  • Sodium is required for vitamin C absorption.
  • Salt is essential for vitamins and minerals to be pushed into the bones, making them strong.
  • Low sodium level results in sodium being pulled from the bones, and brings calcium and magnesium with it!  This results in bone loss.
  • Early humans, well before refrigeration, used salt to preserve most foods and consumed as much as 100 grams of salt without issues of cardiovascular disease and hypertension.
    • [The DASH diet for hypertension recommends only 1500-2300 mg per day[ii]].
  • The rise in hypertension in the early 1900’s actually parallels a reduction in salt intake.
  • The salt “thermostat” regulates intake and prevents addiction to salt. However, introduction of sugar results in a definitive thirty-fold escalation in intake, with evidence of bingeing, tolerance, and structural changes in the brain in response to consuming sugar, all three criteria for addiction.
  • Sugar, unlike salt, is the real villain, along with harmful industrially processed seed oils.
  • When we sweat [e.g., exercising, using a sauna, working in hot weather], we lose about ½-1 teaspoon of salt per hour, on average.
  • Pre-loading salt before excessive sweating will provide greater endurance by dilating vessels for better heat dissipation and slowing of the heart rate.
  • When fasting or lowering carbohydrates below 50 grams per day [ketogenic diet], it is important to increase salt intake. This is because lowering sugar intake will lower insulin, and this leads to more salt wasting [excretion].

Eat Salt!

[i] DiNicolantonio, James. The Salt Fix. (New York: Harmony Books, 2017).

[ii] https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/education/dash-eating-plan

By |2023-09-07T10:53:04-05:00September 7th, 2023|General|

Sodium: Is it Really A Villain?

by Mila McManus MD

Your body requires sodium to function and getting too little actually increases your risk of heart problems, not lower it.

Reduction of dietary sodium is the conventional wisdom offered to solve a number of health problems including high blood pressure. This wisdom is grossly oversimplified and is often a problematic approach to any number of health concerns.

Of the 118 building blocks of life identified in the periodic table, 25 are essential to life, and 95% of the body is made up of carbon (C), oxygen (O), hydrogen (H) and nitrogen (N).  The next seven most essential elements for life on the periodic table are calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, and magnesium. Sodium is in the top 11 essential elements needed for life.

Three Key Salt Facts

First, your body requires sodium to function.  According to James DiNicolantonio, PharmD, author of The Salt Fix, inadequate consumption may actually increase your risk of heart problems!

Second, sodium MUST be understood in the context of its balance to potassium, as well as other key elements in the body.  This balance is FAR more important to maintain than lowering salt intake alone. Failing to address increasing dietary sources of potassium while decreasing sodium results in an imbalance that’s harmful to health. In addition, the body strives to maintain an optimal level of sodium regardless of your intake. Magnesium and calcium levels are used to control sodium levels. If sodium levels drop too low, sodium will be pulled from your bones, along with magnesium and calcium.  This is one reason why low salt diets are likely to be implicated in osteoporosis.

Third, not all dietary salts are the same. Salt has two essential elements – sodium and chloride. The vast supply of salt in the American diet is found in processed foods. Processed salt is about 39% sodium, 58% chloride, and the remainder is chemical additives such as moisture absorbents, anticaking gents, and often iodine.  Unprocessed, natural salt, such as Himalayan or sea salt, contains slightly lower amounts of sodium and chloride and valuable remaining trace minerals such as silicon, phosphorus, and vanadium. Natural salt is also higher in potassium than processed salt. White iodized table salt has 151 mg/kg of potassium, while pink Himalayan salt contains 2,085 mg/kg. So, switching the kind of salt you use can improve your sodium to potassium ratios and improve health. Natural varieties include pink Himalayan (beware of knock-off’s!) and salt from ancient salt beds. Both sources are free from the pollutants and plastics now found in our oceans.  

Finally, it is essential and smart to increase dietary sources of potassium to keep sodium balance in check. Needless to say, processed foods are a poor dietary choice from every direction. Your body needs five times more potassium than sodium, but most people get the exact opposite ratio, i.e. five times more salt than potassium. The most potassium dense food sources are found in the foods humans are best wired to eat – fruits and vegetables. Potassium is also found in small amounts in meats, dairy, nuts, and grains.  The most potassium rich food sources include fruits such as avocadoes, tomatoes, oranges, bananas, cantaloupe, honeydew, apricots, and grapefruit. Potassium rich vegetable sources include cooked spinach and broccoli, red boiled potato, sweet potato, mushrooms, peas, cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkin, and leafy greens. The best strategy is to eat 3 to 5 servings of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables every day, along with other whole, unprocessed, natural foods.  Moreover, according to DiNicolantonio, most people should salt their food “to taste”, taking it as a sign that the body needs as much as the body’s craving.

Be well!


New England Journal of Medicine, August 14, 2014; 371:612-623

American Heart Association, Primer on Potassium

Science Direct, Table Salt, Different salts in snacks

The Salt Fix by James DiNicolantonio, PharmD

The Ultimate Age-Defying Plan by Mark Reinfeld and Ashley Boudet, ND. 2019

Foods. 2020 Oct; 9(10):1490., Table 2

BitChute, Mercola October 26, 2021, 00:19

Mo Med. 2018 May-Jun; 115 (3): 247-252

Harvard T.H.  Chan School of Public Health, Potassium


By |2023-08-17T08:45:52-05:00August 17th, 2023|General|

Salt Selection Matters

By Nancy Mehlert, MS


Salt is a flavor most of us really enjoy.  Salt is life-givingEvery cell in your body relies on it for regulation of body fluids, bone density, blood sugar stabilization, good circulation and muscle and nerve function.

Naturally occurring salt is 40% sodium and 60% chloride. The chemical formula is NaCl. Sodium and chloride are both essential electrolytes your body requires. Sodium balance in the body is complex and impacted by magnesium, calcium, and potassium. If you change the level of one electrolyte, such as sodium, you are impacting the others. Balance is essential to your overall health. Most table salts and sodium in processed food do NOT contain the good stuff, but rather a manufactured salt which negatively impacts the delicate balance of electrolytes in the body.

Here’s the dirt on most common table salts:

  • Most table salt today is heated and cooked at 1200°F. At this extremely high temperature, the salt loses more than eighty important alkaline elements that occur naturally in it, including natural iodine, leaving just pure sodium chloride. Then it is chemically bleached to make it white.
  • Other chemicals often added in table salt including manufactured forms of fluoride, anti-caking agents and toxic amounts of potassium iodide and aluminum derivates, as well as white sugar and mono-sodium-glutamate (MSG). This is what you find in processed food and table salt.
  • As a result, sometimes table salt can be literally toxic to the human body.
  • It is found in virtually every processed and fast food in the marketplace today. Typically, bread, fast food, and frozen meals have the largest quantities.

Processed table salt wreaks havoc in the human body, especially over time. Here’s how:

  • Causes a rapid rise in blood pressure as the body attempts to move the toxic elements away from the heart.
  • Causes fluid retention and is hard on the circulatory, nervous, and lymph system.
  • Chronic imbalances contribute to and/or worsen diabetes, gout, and obesity.
  • Additives in salt can cause major kidney, thyroid, and liver problems, goiter, hypertension, heart disease, strained elimination systems, muscle cramps, edema, stroke, heart failure, PMS, and major nervous system disorders such as anxiety and depression.
  • It is highly addictive as the chemical additives are designed to stimulate pleasure centers of the brain, in the same way sugar does this.

So, what’s your best option?  Usually, normal use of high-quality table salt along with a whole food diet will not invite issues with blood pressure, water retention, or cardiovascular disease.  However, surprisingly, sea salt may not be the answer.  As a result of plastics polluting the oceans, sea salt has been found to contain microplastic particles. This leaves the optimal choice to be Himalayan salt, which is mined from salt beds created long before plastic and other toxic chemicals were manufactured. Himalayan salt contains at least 80 naturally occurring trace elements which are beneficial to our health.

Be cautious when you make your purchase as there are cheap knock offs. Two brands that appear to be authentic and pure are Evolution Salt Company (harvested in the Himalayas), and Redmond’s Real Salt (sea salt harvested from a pristine ancient sea near Redmond, Utah). Most people need about 1.5 teaspoons, or 3500mg of sodium a day. Quality salt along with vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, will provide a balance of electrolytes and essential minerals for the day.



Group, Edward., (2017). The Health Dangers of Table Salt. Global Healing Center. https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/dangers-of-salt/

Mercola, Joseph., (2018). Ninety Percent of Sea Salt Contains Plastic. https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2018/10/31/sea-salt-plastic.aspx

Mercola, Joseph., (2022). Do You Know the Difference Between Salt and Sodium?



By |2022-10-26T14:06:47-05:00July 21st, 2022|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|