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Why do people crave salt?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Our craving for salt starts early. Some of the first foods we eat as babies -- cereal and crackers, for example -- are high in sodium. Bread, too. Time magazine reported that research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found an association between early exposure to salt and an affinity for it later.

In a similar article in the Los Angeles Times, one of the researchers spoke of a “sensitivity window” in infancy when certain flavors and tastes seem to be imprinted on babies’ brains. It gets worse. Later in the article, the same researcher said that babies learn about flavors in their mother’s breast milk! (That would mean bad flavors, too, including too sweet.) With what we now know, be careful about what you feed your babies.
Marjorie Nolan Cohn
Nutrition & Dietetics
A craving for salt can have either physical cause, or it can be an acquired taste. Salt, also known as sodium, is an important mineral in the body, and a craving for salt can indicate a number of different conditions.

Your body consists of over 60% water. Salt is one of the electrolytes that helps your body maintain an appropriate balance of fluids. When you sweat, you lose salt from your body. If you have salt cravings after exercise or after sweating on a hot day, you've probably lost too many electrolytes. You can drink Gatorade, or another electrolyte-rich beverage, to replace the electrolytes in your body.

Salt cravings can easily lead to over-consumption of salt and salty foods. While your body needs a small amount of salt to function properly, eating too much salt can lead to dizziness, excessive thirst and dry mouth. If you eat too much salt for a long period of time, you could succumb to high blood pressure and develop a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
People crave salt due to a variety of physiological and biological causes, as well as psychological or habitual reasons. In this video, I will explain the complicated nature of salt cravings and how they develop.

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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.