Check out the new updates to the sodium & potassium dietary guidelines

April 16, 2019
Woman seasoning food

In March 2019 a new report from the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) updated the recommended daily sodium and potassium dietary guidelines. Let’s quickly run down what this means for you and how you can easily change your diet  to meet the new guidance! 

Let’s begin with “sodium,” which is another word for “salt.” Sodium often enhances the flavor of food but having too much can negatively affect your health.  It's an ingredient that is used in many of the foods you probably enjoy today. 

According to the NASEM, eating too much sodium can lead to heart disease, increased blood pressure, and even cause you to feel pain in your muscles when you move around. In this article published in the Boston Globe, they share the new ideal daily sodium intakes which are:

  • 110 milligrams for infants 0-6 months
  • 370 milligrams for infants 7-12 months
  • 800 milligrams for children 1-3
  • 1,000 milligrams for ages 4-8
  • 1,200 milligrams daily for ages 9-13
  • 1,500 milligrams daily for ages 14 and older

You can check and see the amount of sodium in the foods you eat by checking it’s nutrition facts label. University of Massachusetts Amherst Food Science Head, Eric Decker, also adds in the article that “the average adult American is consuming 3,400 milligrams (of sodium) a day, and some people consume up to 5,000.” That’s over three times the suggested daily intake! Cutting down on the amount of sodium in your diet doesn’t have to make your meals taste bland. Here are a few low sodium recipes you can try out tonight!

Blueberry Chicken Pasta Salad with Field Green - 250mg of sodium

Sweet Potato Fries - 240 mg of sodium

Stove Top Macaroni and Cheese - 85mg of sodium

Northwest Apple Salad - 10mg of sodium

There are also a lot of choices for healthier sodium substitutes!

Moving onto potassium: for the average person, you may not want to remove this vitamin from your diet in the same way you may need to reduce sodium - in fact you may need to get more! According to the NASEM, for some people potassium can help reduce risk for heart disease and help improve blood flow. The updated potassium guidelines are as follows:

  • 400 mg daily for infants 0-6 months
  • 860 mg daily for infants 7-12 months
  • 2,000 mg daily for children ages 1-3
  • 2,300 mg daily for ages 4-8 
  • The potassium recommendations for other age groups range from 2,300 to 3,400 mg per day, based on sex and life-stage groups

Nutrition labels usually don’t have information on potassium amounts, but snacking on fruits and vegetables like bananas, oranges, cantaloupe, spinach and broccoli can help you quickly get some more of this vitamin in your diet if you’re in a rush. Here are a few recipes you can try out if you’re looking to bite off a bit more!

Sweet Potato Shepards Pie - Includes potatoes, a good source of potassium!

Honey Baked Lentils - Includes lentils, with 45mg of potassium in a tablespoon.

Apple and Banana Salad with Peanuts - Includes bananas, a sweet source of potassium!

Vegetable Lasagna - one cup of spinach has over 400mg of potassium!