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How Much Sodium Per Day for Teenagers?

By Lisa Porter ; Updated July 18, 2017

Children and teenagers who get used to a high-salt diet may have trouble cutting back on sodium later in life, warns the Harvard School of Public Health. Teenagers should follow the same recommended sodium limits as adults to avoid putting their health in danger.

Adequate Intake

The Institute of Medicine has established adequate intake levels for sodium rather than recommended dietary allowances. For males and females ages 9 to 13 and 14 to 18, 1,500 mg of sodium per day represents adequate intake. Adequate intake values represent the intake believed to cover most healthy people’s needs.

Recommended Limits

Current dietary guidelines recommend limiting sodium intake to 2,300 mg per day, or about 1 tsp. of salt, notes the Harvard School of Public Health. However, individuals with high blood pressure or a high risk of developing high blood pressure should limit their sodium intake even further, consuming no more than 1,500 mg per day, or about 2/3 tsp., notes the Harvard School of Public Health. Black teenagers and teenagers with diabetes or kidney disease may fall into this high-risk group. Furthermore, the Harvard School of Public Health and the American Heart Association recommend that everyone limit their daily sodium intake to 1,500 mg.

Health Risks

Excessive sodium intake causes the body to retain water, putting added strain on the heart. High sodium intake can elevate blood pressure and increase your risk for heart disease, stroke and heart failure, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. High salt intake may also increase your risk of stomach cancer and osteoporosis.

Cutting Back

Most salt in the American diet comes from packaged foods and restaurant foods. Food manufacturers add salt to breads, crackers, breakfast cereals and snack foods to enhance their flavor. Check nutrition labels on packaged foods and choose low-sodium or sodium-free options. When cooking at home, flavor food with herbs and spices rather than salt.

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