What You Will Learn

Discover the basics of sodium—all based on expert health information from the National Library of Medicine. 

Get answers to common questions asked about sodium.

  • What is another name for sodium?
  • What is sodium?
  • What does sodium do to your body?
  • Why is too much sodium bad for you?
  • How much sodium should you have a day?
  • How do you know how much sodium is in food?


Sodium Explained From the Experts Video

This video brought to you by The NASH Facts™ project—an organization committed to bringing you expert information from trusted sources related to fatty liver disease and NASH.




What Is Another Name For Sodium?

Sodium is also called salt.


What Is Sodium?

Table salt is a combination of two minerals – sodium and chloride.


What Does Sodium Do to Your Body?

Your body needs some sodium to work properly. It helps with the function of nerves and muscles. It also helps to keep the right balance of fluids in your body.


Why Is Too Much Sodium Bad for You?

Your kidneys control how much sodium is in your body. If you have too much and your kidneys can’t get rid it, sodium builds up in your blood. This can lead to high blood pressure.

High blood pressure can lead to other health problems.


How Much Sodium Should You Have a Day?

Most people in the U.S. get more sodium in their diets than they need. A key to healthy eating is choosing foods low in sodium.

The Dietary Guidelines recommend that most adults eat less than 2.3 grams per day. That equals about 1 teaspoon of table salt a day. 

Some people are more sensitive to the effects of salt than others and should eat less. This includes people who:

  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have diabetes
  • Have kidney problems
  • Are African American
  • Are over age 50


How Do You Know How Much Sodium Is in Food?

Reading food labels can help you see how much sodium is in prepared foods.


The NASH Facts™ Project would like to thank MedlinePlus from the National Library of Medicine and the NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

MedlinePlus brings together authoritative health information from the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other government agencies and health-related organizations.

The primary NIH organization for research on Sodium is the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements.


What You Should Remember

  • Your body needs some sodium to work properly
  • Sodium helps with:

—The function of nerves and muscles

—Keeping the right balance of fluids in your body

  • Too much sodium in your diet can lead to high blood pressure and other health problems

Take The Next Step

Learn easy ways to lower your sodium (salt) intake in our Fatty Liver Diet Series. Get Seven Tips To Eat Less Sodium.