How much sodium should I get per day?
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020–2025external icon recommends that adults in the United States consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium each day as part of a healthy eating pattern.3
Get tips for reducing sodium at the grocery store, at home, and when dining out.
What can I do to reduce my sodium?
- Read the Nutrition Facts label while shopping to find foods that have less than 5% of the daily value of sodium per serving.
- Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, frozen fruits and vegetables without sauce, and canned vegetables with no added salt.
- Limit processed foods high in sodium.
- Consider eating more meals at home.
- Use alternatives such as herbs and spices instead of salt when cooking.
- When buying packaged or prepared foods, choose foods labeled “low sodium,” “reduced sodium,” or “no salt added.”
- When eating out, ask for lower sodium options.3
Get more tips for reducing sodium.
How much sodium should my child get?
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020–2025external icon recommends that children
- 1 to 3 years old consume less than 1,200 mg of sodium per day.
- 4 to 8 years old consume less than 1,500 mg.
- 9 to 13 years old consume less than 1,800 mg.
- 14 years old and older consume less than 2,300 mg.3
Children who regularly get too much sodium have an increased risk of developing high blood pressure.4
Learn about high blood pressure in kids and teens.
Why should I reduce my sodium intake?
Most people in the United States get much more sodium on average than is healthy.
Getting more sodium than your body needs can raise blood pressure, and high blood pressure is a major cause of heart disease and stroke.5 Even people without high blood pressure should keep their sodium below a certain level to reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke.6
Learn more about preventing and managing high blood pressure.
Where does most of the sodium in my diet come from?
In the United States, more than 40% of sodium people eat comes from the following 10 types of processed foods:9
- Deli meat sandwiches
- Burritos and tacos
- Savory snacks, such as chips, popcorn, pretzels, snack mixes, and crackers
- Pasta mixed dishes
- Eggs and omelets
Most of the sodium you eat comes from processed foods (e.g., hot dogs, sausages, ham, luncheon meats) and restaurant foods. You can’t control the amount of sodium in these foods, so it’s important to limit them in your diet.7
“Processed food” includes food that has been cooked, canned, frozen, packaged, or changed in nutritional composition by fortifying, preserving, or preparing it in different ways.8
To learn how much sodium a processed food has, check the Nutrition Facts label. The sodium content is listed in milligrams.10
What is the difference between sodium and salt?
Sodium, which is a mineral, is an element found in salt.11 The chemical name for salt that you eat or drink (e.g., salt in the saltshaker) is sodium chloride.5 The terms are not the same but are often used interchangeably, and both may appear on a food label. For example, the Nutrition Facts label uses “sodium,” while the front of the package may say “salt free.”12
What do the different sodium-related terms mean on food packages?
- Sodium free—contains less than 5 mg of sodium per serving and no sodium chloride
- Very low sodium—contains 35 mg of sodium or less per serving
- Low sodium—contains 140 mg of sodium or less per serving
- Reduced sodium—contains at least 25% less sodium per serving than usual
- Light (for reduced sodium products)—the food is “low calorie” and “low fat” and sodium is reduced by at least 50% per serving
- Light in sodium—sodium is reduced by at least 50% per serving13
What does “salt sensitive” mean? Who is “salt sensitive”?
When a person is salt sensitive, their blood pressure goes up more than usual when they consume sodium.5
People with salt sensitivity often are older, are Black, and/or have high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease.5 There is no screening test for salt sensitivity.
Use the health care professional’s version of the Sodium Q&A fact sheet pdf icon[PDF – 235 KB] to guide how much sodium patients should consume and ways to reduce their intake.
Will I get iodine deficiency if I get less sodium?
Most of the sodium people in the United States eat comes from processed and restaurant foods.14 In the United States, the salt used to make processed food does not have iodine in it.15 Reducing the amount of sodium in these foods or reducing how often you eat processed foods would not greatly affect your iodine levels.16
More Sodium Resources for Individuals and Patients
- CDC: Sodium and Food Sources
- CDC: Why Is Sodium in Your Food?
- Million Hearts®: Recipes for a Heart-Healthy Lifestyleexternal icon
- U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA): Sodium in Your Dietexternal icon
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sodium website. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/sodium.htm. Accessed June 19, 2020.
- Healthy People.gov. Heart Disease and Stroke website. https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/heart-disease-and-strokeexternal icon. Accessed June 19, 2020.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020–2025. 9th Edition. December 2020. https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans_2020-2025.pdf pdf icon[PDF – 2 MB]external icon. Accessed February 9, 2021.
- American Heart Association, Inc. Sodium and Kids website. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sodium/sodium-and-kidsexternal icon. Accessed June 19, 2020.
- Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium Chloride, and Sulfate. Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 2004.
- Chobanian AV, Bakris GL, Black HR, Cushman WC, Green LA, Izzo JL Jr, et al. The seventh report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure. Hypertension. 2003;42(6):1206–1252.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sodium and Food Sources website. https://www.cdc.gov/salt/food.htm. Accessed March 15, 2021.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Processed Foods: What’s OK and What to Avoid website. https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/nutrition-facts-and-food-labels/processed-foods-whats-ok-and-what-to-avoidexternal icon. Accessed March 31, 2021.
- Woodruff RC, Zhao L, Ahuja JKC, Gillespie C, Goldman J, Harris DM, et al. Top food category contributors to sodium and potassium intake — United States, 2015–2016. MMWR. 2020 Aug 14;69(32):1064–1069.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Top 10 Sources of Sodium website. https://www.cdc.gov/salt/sources.htm. Accessed June 19, 2020.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Sodium in Your Diet website. https://www.fda.gov/food/nutrition-education-resources-materials/sodium-your-dietexternal icon. Accessed March 29, 2021.
- Office of the Federal Register. Food Labeling: Mandatory Status of Nutrition Labeling and Nutrient Content Revision. Final rule. 58 CFR 2079; 1993.
- American Heart Association. How Much Sodium Should I Eat per Day? website. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sodium/how-much-sodium-should-i-eat-per-dayexternal icon. Accessed June 19, 2020.
- Burton S, Creyer EH, Kees J, Huggins K. Attacking the obesity epidemic: the potential health benefits of providing nutrition information in restaurants. Am J Public Health. 2006;96(9):1669–1675.
- Ohlhorst SD, Slavin M, Bhide JM, Bugusu B. Use of iodized salt in processed foods in select countries around the world and the role of food processors. Compr Rev Food Sci Food Saf. 2012;11(2):233–284.
- Institute of Medicine Committee on Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake; Henney JE, Taylor CL, Boon CS, eds. Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in the United States. Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 2010.