How much sodium (salt) can I consume per day?

Intermountain Registered Dietitians
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

Keep your sodium intake to 1,500 mg a day or less. This is the amount recommended by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines and the American Heart Association.

Reduce your sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams (mg) a day. The 2010 U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend that most people limit salt to 1,500 mg (about 1/2 teaspoon) or less per day. This is less than the previous limit of 2,300 mg per day.

If you have kidney disease or high blood pressure, it's doubly important to stick to this limit. A registered dietitian can help with a plan based on your needs and preferences.

Americans eat on average about 3,300 milligrams of sodium a day. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting sodium to less than 2,300 mg a day. If you are in the following population groups, you should consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day, and meet the potassium recommendation (4,700 mg/day) with food.

  • You are 51 years of age or older.
  • You are African American.
  • You have high blood pressure.
  • You have diabetes.
  • You have chronic kidney disease.

About 6 in 10 adults should limit intake to 1,500 mg.

Dr. Andrea Pennington, MD
Integrative Medicine Specialist

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting daily intake of sodium to 2,300 milligrams (mg) or less for most of us, and suggest less than 1,500 mg for all African Americans and anyone with hypertension, diabetes and chronic kidney disease (including children), as well as persons older than 50.

What I find disturbing is that at a time when high blood pressure and heart attacks, collectively known as heart disease, kill more Americans than several cancers combined, you'd think that our government would take a stronger stance to protect us from the sodium lurking in processed foods.

Previously the American Heart Association (AHA) recommended that salt intake should be below 2,300 mg per day for American adults, but as of a recent article published in the journal Circulation and public call to action, the AHA suggests that consumption of less than 1,500 mg should now be the goal for all Americans, particularly since those risk categories may comprise up to 70 percent of the population.

One could argue that our health is supposed to be our own personal responsibility. And 'we don't need the government telling us how to eat', right? But shouldn't the government be motivated by saving money and isn't the USDA charged with protecting our health in respect to food safety?

Is it unreasonable to consider that since current health care spending is in excess of $24 billion per year for these preventable conditions it might be wise to urge Americans to get over their dependence on salt and make some serious changes? After all, reducing sodium intake could save up to $24 billion in healthcare costs each year, the AHA noted.

It is estimated that the average adult consumes about 3,400 milligrams of sodium daily, but the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend a healthy adult should not eat more than about 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day or about one teaspoon of salt.

However, the Dietary Guidelines also recommend no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium daily for at-risk populations such as African-Americans, any person with hypertension, diabetes, chronic kidney disease and any person over 51 years of age. This is significant as this lower recommendation would apply to nearly 70 percent of US adults.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.