Too much salt in your diet and your diet earns a bad
name! Although salt sometimes receives bad press,
it is important to remember its varied functions.
Being an essential mineral which your body needs for
good health and to function adequately the need for
sodium does increase during pregnancy.
Perhaps you didn’t already
know but there are many important FUNCTIONS of salt,
• Controlling the flow of fluids in and out
of each and every body cell
• Regulating blood pressure
• Transmitting nerve impulses. Sodium, chloride
and potassium are electrolytes or compounds that
transmit electrical currents through the body, causing
nerve impulses to also be transmitted
• Helping your muscles like your heart to
• During pregnancy a certain amount of sodium
is required to allow for higher fluid volume
Did you know..
• Salt and sodium are often used interchangeably
but in essence they are two different things.
• Sodium is technically known as sodium chloride,
an element of table salt.
• A single teaspoon of salt contains 2000mg
• The moderate requirement for adults, including
pregnant and lactating women, is about 2400mg of
sodium per day.
• Neither decreasing the intake nor increasing
it is recommended – most women will get adequate
supply of this mineral from their regular diets.
• The clearance of salt by the kidneys is
substantially increased during pregnancy – pregnant
women lose more salt than non-pregnant women.
• In general when you stumble
on guidelines warning you on the dangers of eating
too much salt, the warning is all about limiting
your sodium intake.
• If frozen convenience food is your thingy,
look for products that contain less than 800mg of
sodium per serving. Canned soups, most fast foods,
luncheon meats and macaroni and cheese mix are some
examples of foods high in sodium.
• Condiments such as ketchup, soy sauce, mustard,
pickles and olives can be high in sodium – go easy
healthy normal people, the kidneys help regulate
the sodium level – excess sodium is excreted from
your body through urine and perspiration.
• Therefore when you eat foods high in salt,
you will probably urinate more often because your
body is trying to rid itself of the excess sodium.
Your body will work efficiently every day at maintaining
a proper balance of salt irrespective of your sodium
• Using salt for taste provides sufficient
dose of this mineral. Choose iodized versions as
the iodine in it will be useful for the fetus (unless
you are hyperthyroid and your doctor recommends
that you avoid iodized salts).
A word on Edema
• Fluid Retention or Edema is a normal consequence
of pregnancy and its cause is not always related
to too much salt. Instead, this condition develops
a lot of times because of increased estrogen and
a greater blood volume. Having said this it is important
that you do not decrease your sodium intake to relieve
edema. Unless otherwise advised by your doctor,
you should not restrict sodium. Only do so when
water retention increases immediately after consuming
• Restriction of sodium can disrupt the body's
delicate fluid balance essential during pregnancy
– extra fluids especially water can relieve some
swelling. If the swelling is excessive consult your
doctor first before you make any changes to your
• Babies born to women who restrict salt may
have low blood sodium at birth or hyponatremia.