Salt, also known as sodium chloride, is about 40% sodium and 60% chloride. It flavors food and is used as a binder and stabilizer. It is also a food preservative, as bacteria can’t thrive in the presence of a high amount of salt. The human body requires a small amount of sodium to conduct nerve impulses, contract and relax muscles, and maintain the proper balance of water and minerals. It is estimated that we need about 500 mg of sodium daily for these vital functions. But too much sodium in the diet can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. It can also cause calcium losses, some of which may be pulled from bone. Most Americans consume at least 1.5 teaspoons of salt per day, or about 3400 mg of sodium, which contains far more than our bodies need.
The U.S. Dietary Reference Intakes state that there is not enough evidence to establish a Recommended Dietary Allowance or a toxic level for sodium (aside from chronic disease risk). Because of this, a Tolerable Upper intake Level (UL) has not been established; a UL is the maximum daily intake unlikely to cause harmful effects on health.
Guidelines for Adequate Intakes (AI) of sodium were established based on the lowest levels of sodium intake used in randomized controlled trials that did not show a deficiency but that also allowed for an adequate intake of nutritious foods naturally containing sodium. For men and women 14 years of age and older and pregnant women, the AI is 1,500 milligrams a day.
A Chronic Disease Risk Reduction (CDRR) Intake has also been established, based on the evidence of benefit of a reduced sodium intake on the risk of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. Reducing sodium intakes below the CDRR is expected to lower the risk of chronic disease in the general healthy population. The CDRR lists 2,300 milligrams a day as the maximum amount to consume for chronic disease reduction for men and women 14 years of age and older and pregnant women. Most people in the U.S. consume more sodium than the AI or CDRR guidelines. 
Sodium and Health
In most people, the kidneys have trouble keeping up with excess sodium in the blood. As sodium accumulates, the body holds onto water to dilute the sodium. This increases both the amount of fluid surrounding cells and the volume of blood in the bloodstream. Increased blood volume means more work for the heart and more pressure on blood vessels. Over time, the extra work and pressure can stiffen blood vessels, leading to high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. It can also lead to heart failure. There is some evidence that too much salt can damage the heart, aorta, and kidneys without increasing blood pressure, and that it may be bad for bones, too. Learn more about the health risks and disease related to salt and sodium:
Sodium isn’t generally a nutrient that you need to look for; it finds you. Almost any unprocessed food like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, meats, and dairy foods is low in sodium. Most of the salt in our diets comes from commercially prepared foods, not from salt added to cooking at home or even from salt added at the table before eating. [1,18]
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the top 10 sources of sodium in our diets include: breads/rolls; pizza; sandwiches; cold cuts/cured meats; soups; burritos, tacos; savory snacks (chips, popcorn, pretzels, crackers); chicken; cheese; eggs, omelets.
Are “natural” salts healthier than table salt?
Salt is harvested from salt mines or by evaporating ocean water. All types of salt are made of sodium chloride, and the nutrient content varies minimally. Although less processed salts contain small amounts of minerals, the amount is not enough to offer substantial nutritional benefit. Different salts are chosen mainly for flavor.
The most widely used, table salt, is extracted from underground salt deposits. It is heavily processed to remove impurities, which may also remove trace minerals. It is then ground very fine. Iodine, a trace mineral, was added to salt in 1924 to prevent goiter and hypothyroidism, medical conditions caused by iodine deficiency. Table salt also often contains an anticaking agent such as calcium silicate to prevent clumps from forming.
Kosher salt is a coarsely grained salt named for its