Our bodies need sodium and nutrients, called electrolytes, found in salt to survive. But the average American diet includes way too much salt, according to Live Science.
Dietary guidelines for salt intake recommend no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day for adults, instead of the 3,400 mg per day consumed by the average American adult. The Food and Drug Administration puts the minimum amount of salt necessary for good health at about 1,500 mg per day, but the American Heart Association suggests the actual amount we need for healthy function is less than 500 mg a day.
Electrolytes from salt dissolve in water and create positively- and negatively-charged ions that conduct electricity. We need a proper balance of these charges for our cells to function well and to regulate bodily functions like hydration and blood pressure. Too little salt – a condition called hyponatremia – can cause headaches, nausea, and fatigue and may be life-threatening.