Will Drinking Water Influence My Sodium Levels?

Our bodies need more regular maintenance and observation as we grow older, especially hearts. For many individuals, monitoring their sodium intake is vital to a healthy heart and a long and productive life. To help you better understand this relationship, we have listed some simple questions and answers regarding sodium intake and drinking water.

How does excess sodium impact my health?

Sodium (Na) is an essential element required for normal body functions including nerve impulse transmission, muscle contraction, relaxation, and fluid regulation. Excess sodium consumption results in greater availability of sodium ions in the bloodstream which leads to increased blood volume and constricted blood vessels. This condition results in the thickening of the cardiac muscle and the potential enlargement of the heart. This can result in an increased risk of hypertension, heart disease, and stroke.

Sodium Level

How might I be exposed to sodium in my drinking water?

Sodium occurs naturally in groundwater, especially near coastal areas. Sodium in water may also be due to man-made contamination. These include use of road de-icing salts, discharges from water softeners, human or animal waste disposal, and leachate from landfills.

Should I be concerned about sodium in my drinking water?

No. Sodium levels in drinking water from most public water systems are unlikely to be a significant contributor to adverse health effects. Drinking water contributes only a small fraction to a person’s overall sodium intake. Levels of sodium less than the drinking water standard are not likely to cause any problems. However, individuals on a sodium-restricted diet should seek drinking water that meets the drinking water standard or consider getting a reverse osmosis system to remove excess salt from their water.

How much sodium do I consume on a daily basis?

One of the main sources of sodium is through the consumption of food with high salt content, therefore it is important to follow recommended salt restrictions in our diet. A Food and Drug Administration publication, "Scouting for Sodium and Other Nutrients Important to Blood Pressure" (FDA 95-2284) states that most American adults tend to eat between 4,000 and 6,000 mg of sodium per day, "and therapeutic sodium-restricted diets can range from below 1,000 mg to 3,000 mg per day."

It lists the following nutrient guidelines for food labeling:

  • Low-sodium: 140 mg or less per serving (or, if the serving is 30 g or less or two tablespoons or less, 140 mg or less per 50 g of the food)
  • Very low-sodium: 35 mg or less per serving (or, if the serving is 30 g or less or two tablespoons or less, 35 mg or less per 50 g of the food)
  • Sodium-free: Less than 5 mg per serving

How much sodium is actually in my drinking water?

In a National Inorganics and Radionuclides Survey, conducted by EPA in the mid-1980s, about 3/4 of 989 water systems included had concentrations of sodium of less than 50 mg/l. Assuming that an adult weighing 70 kilograms (about 150 pounds) drinks two liters (about 8 glasses) per day, he or she would typically ingest less than 100 mg of sodium per day from drinking water.

Based on this data, a 1/4-liter serving (about an 8-ounce glass) would contain less than 12.5 mg of sodium, well within the FDA's "very low sodium" category. It is important to note that sodium is an essential nutrient. The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council recommends that most healthy adults need to consume at least 500 mg/day and that sodium intake is limited to no more than 2400 mg/day.

Is it necessary to remove the salt from my tap water?

Yes, but only if you are restricted to a very strict low-sodium diet. For most people, the salt levels found in tap water are not harmful and the amount found in a serving of drinking water is very low with North American tap water having in the range of 18 to 41 mg per liter of sodium. In comparison, filtered bottled water contains sodium in the range of 4 to 8 mg per liter. If you are unsure about your overall salt intake, it would be wise to consult a physician or registered dietitian to plan a healthy diet that takes into account both your food and water salt allowance.

An affordable and more eco-friendly alternative to bottled water would be to install a reverse osmosis under-the-counter drinking water system. This technology is guaranteed to remove 90-99% of all contaminants in the water, including sodium. Filtering your own water will save you a lot of money while providing you with fresher water without the nasty plastic taste of bottled water. You would also be protecting the environment by keeping plastic bottle waste out of landfills and the ocean.

Taking care of our health should be a top priority in everyone’s lives. In order to be truly happy, we must maintain our energy, our spirit, and our health. The first step in achieving this would be to educate ourselves on these important topics; thus by reading this article you are already on the right track to a healthy life!

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