Blood volume is increased by excessive salt intake but this can be excreted by the kidneys as long as enough water is consumed (60). Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps may result from excessive salt consumption (61).

Profuse water loss can cause unusually high blood sodium levels ('hypernatremia') with symptoms such as dizziness, low blood pressure, and reduced urine production. Serious cases my result in swelling ('edema'), heightened blood pressure, increased heart rate, breathing trouble, convulsions, coma, and death.

Tolerable upper intake levels

The European Food Safety Authority has decided that the available data are not sufficient to establish an upper level for sodium from dietary sources (62).

The U.S. Food and Nutrition Board has established an upper level intake (UL) for sodium based on the adverse effects of high sodium and sodium chloride (salt) intakes on blood pressure, a major risk factor for cardiovascular and kidney diseases (5)

  Age Group

UL for sodium (g/day)UL for salt (g/day)
 Infants 0–12 monthsnot determined*not determined*
 Children 1–3 years1.54.8
 Children 4–8 years1.94.8
 Children 9–13 years2.25.5
 Adolescents 14–18 years2.35.8
 Adults 19 years and older2.35.8

* Not determined. Intake should be from food or formula only.

The UL for sodium may be lower for those who are most sensitive to the blood pressure effects of sodium, including older people, African Americans, and individuals with hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease.

Drug interactions

Please note:

Because of the potential for interactions, dietary supplements should not be taken with medication without first talking to an experienced healthcare provider.


Authored by Dr Peter Engel in 2010, reviewed and revised by Dr. Volker Elste on 20.09.2017.