How Much Sodium Do I Need?

  • AI for Adults 18-50 is 1500 mg/d

  • AI for Adults 51-70 is 1300 mg/d

  • AI for Adults >70 is 1200 mg/d

  • Upper Safe Limit for Adults is 2300 mg/d 

Adequate Intake (AI) is developed when there is not enough scientific data to establish a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)

Why Do I Need Sodium?

  • Sodium maintains normal fluid and electrolyte balance, assists in nerve impulse transmission and muscle contractions

  • The minimum requirement for sodium is thought to be between 180-500 mg per day but most Americans consume closer to 3500 mg/d

How to Avoid Excess Sodium

  • High sodium diets have been associated with high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and osteoporosis

  • The naturally occurring sodium in fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, raw nuts and seeds is not a problem

  • Problems occur when a diet is heavy in processed food, fast food and restaurant meals

  • The best way to avoid excess sodium is to cook for yourself whenever possible using fresh ingredients and low sodium convenience foods

  • Herbs, spices, lemon and vinegar can add flavor without the sodium found in salt

  •  Always check the nutrition facts labels on packaged foods and look for foods that contain no sodium or the lowest sodium you can find

  • A "low sodium" food by definition contains <140 mg of sodium per serving

  • Some high sodium foods to avoid or limit include: table salt, sea salt, soy sauce, Bragg amino acids, canned soups, frozen meals, alternative meat products like Tofurky and Gardein, BBQ sauce, chips, crackers, bread and some cereals

Sodium Intake on a Plant-Based Diet

  • Unprocessed plant foods contain small amounts of naturally occurring sodium and if you are eating a whole food, plant-based diet with no processed foods or added salt  you would likely consume between 200-500 mg of sodium and meet the minimum requirements

  • If you eat a strictly unprocessed plant-based diet (wow- you are a superstar!) then you could safely add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of table salt or sea salt and still have a sodium intake that meets the recommended amount of no more than 1500 mg/d


Please check out the following links related to sodium:


Kristen Zaier, ​​Plant-Based RD

References used for all of the nutrient pages can be found at the bottom of the Nutrition Facts page. Click here.