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What Is a Good Sodium Intake in a Day?

By Lisa Porter

Nearly a third of Americans have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, according to 2010 report from the Institute of Medicine. High sodium intake can increase your risk for hypertension, a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Major health organizations recommend limiting your daily intake of sodium.

Maximum Daily Intake

The 2011 dietary guidelines from the USDA recommend that healthy adults consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium each day, or the equivalent of about 1 teaspoon of salt. The average American consumes more than 3,400 mg of sodium per day, or about 1 ½ teaspoons of salt, notes the Harvard School of Public Health.

Intake for High-Risk Individuals

Individuals age 51 and older and those of any age who are African Americans or have hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease should reduce their daily sodium intakes to less than 1,500 mg per day, or about 2/3 teaspoon of salt, according to January 2011 guidelines released from the USDA. In 2005, the USDA guidelines stated that this level of sodium intake was for “middle-aged and older-aged” individuals, which generally refers to anyone over age 40. Nearly 70 percent of American adults fell into that high-risk group, notes 2009 information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ideal Intake

Experts at several major health organizations, including the American Heart Association, the Harvard School of Public Health and the Center for Science in the Public Interest recommend that everyone limit their daily sodium intakes to 1,500 mg per day. The AHA feels that the 2011 USDA guidelines do not go far enough to promote the health of the nation.


Salt in processed and restaurant foods accounts for most of the average American’s sodium intake, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To keep your sodium intake under control, watch your portion sizes when eating at restaurants and check nutrition labels when purchasing processed foods. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, which are naturally low in sodium and rich in nutrients.

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