Are You Sodium Deficient?

If you're on a real food diet, you're probably not getting as much salt as the average American. If your diet is low-carb on top of that, you may be sodium deficient.

Are You Sodium Deficient?

That was the case for me. I started to understand this better when I scrutinized my sodium levels in my blood work.

Comprehensive Metabolic Panel

My most recent CMP came back showing my sodium was outside the normal range. It was low. But don't worry, it's not life threatening, and it's easily rectified.

Symptoms of Sodium Deficiency

I can tell you from personal experience, that sodium deficiency is uncomfortable and can lead to unpleasant symptoms. Here's what I experienced:

  • headaches
  • dehydration
  • constipation

Are You Drowning Your Food In Salt?

I was drowning my food in salt. Consistently salting before I tasted because it wasn't ever salty enough. Thankfully, my body was acting in an adaptogenic manner, telling me what I need.

Salt Based Electrolytes

I started on a salt-based electrolyte created for those of us on Low-Carb Diets. After using a small amount of LMNT daily for a couple of weeks, my system was more in balance.

Salt Satiation

How do I know?  I've stopped dumping the entire salt shaker on my food. This small miracle tells me my body is getting the sodium it needs.

LMNT

Long before I used a salt-based electrolyte, I would put salt in my water whenever I felt a headache coming on.That's a quick, easy, and inexpensive remedy that worked for me.

Salty Relief

Anecdotally, for me, consuming adequate salt does a couple of things.

Proper Hydration

First, it keeps me hydrated, so the liquid I consume isn't passing right through me. I stopped running to the bathroom all the time to urinate.

Headache Relief

Second, it would help the headache go away. So easy and a great way to avoid NSAIDS which can harm the gut lining. I do my best to avoid this type of drug given that I have Celiac Disease.

Gut Motility

Sometimes it would help with constipation. That's because salt can have an osmotic effect, pulling water into the colon, creating minor distention, which signals the brain it's time for peristaltic action. Bingo. No back up.

Bio-Hacking

I know sharing my blood work with you is a little different than usual, but it's something I've always wanted to do.

Recipes Or Health Hacks?

Last week I spoke with someone at the Boulder Bookstore who said, you're not in the health space, you write recipes and post beach photos of yourself on Instagram. I thought that was fantastic feedback because it made me realize that I'm not sharing some important stuff with you!

Why Not Both?

I have so many recipes and also a ton of personal bio-hacking information I've been wanting to share with you.

N=1

So now you can see my lab result for sodium and get a little insight into how I look at, study, and work for, my health.

What About You?

Are you drinking enough water? Do you crave salt? Have you tried electrolytes? Leave a comment and let's talk about proper hydration. I want to hear from you!

The information you share in your quest for better health is always valuable.

Comments

33 responses to “Are You Sodium Deficient?”

  1. Hi Elana,
    I am so sorry to hear about your losses to COVD-19. I hope you don’t mind me asking a question during this time. I have a daughter who suffers from nightly headaches. I’d love to try the electrolytes route to see if it would help her. I looked at the LMNT site and just placed an order. In the meantime, I’d like to start giving her a home-made concoction. Do you know the diff between Potassium Citrate and Potassium Aspartate as well as Magnesim Glycinate and Magnesium Citrate and which to use? Thanks so much. Also, is there a multi-vitamin you’d recommend? I’ve been searching literally for years trying to help my daughter.

    • Dorene, thanks for your sweet comment! I’d love to do some research and help you with this but I just don’t have the bandwidth right now given everything that is going on. So sorry.

  2. I flagged this email when it landed in my inbox days ago to read because it immediately intrigued me. I am always craving salt and salting away like you mentioned you were doing. Interesting. I need to have my levels checked. What does your Dr say about certain electrolyte ratios ? Potassium or magnesium etc in regards to salt? Thanks for always be informative and succinct. I’ve always loved that about your blog.

    • Kirbi, thanks for your comment! I seem to be chronically low in magnesium as well and my doctor and I are focusing on that too. Potassium seems to be ok, but I need to look more into the ratios and how they all work together. Thanks for bringing this up :-)

  3. I have dealt with low sodium levels confirmed by bloodwork. I worked with Dr. Hal Huggins to get my numbers back in line. He taught me to use canning and pickling salt–it is pure sodiun chloride. My body could utilize it. I had been using Redmond’s red salt exclusively thinking I was doing the healthier thing. My body did not recognize and use it as salt. He also told me not to use sea salt as it has many contaminants in it. He tested many samples to determine that conclusion. I had to also take potassium as it was also low., but the sodium was lower than the potassium. He said that was the harder combination to correct. I took 2 of the 00 empty capsules a day to bring up the sodium. I have also since learned that deficiency in B6 can impact your potassium and sodium levels, especially if you have MTHFR. tell me if you want more info.

    • Kathy, thanks for sharing all of this incredible info!I am currently somewhat deficient in B6. Love learning about the link between B6 and sodium and potassium. Again, thank you!

  4. Hi Elena, Thanks for your very interesting post on a topic that’s probably little understood by many. There are some helpful videos re the current science on salt intake on the site nutritionfacts.org that help to demystify many of the questions we may have about dietary salt intake.
    The information you share in your quest for better health is always valuable and much appreciated, Jo

  5. Elana, I too always have a below average reading with sodium. I have mainly used celtic sea salt in water to dissolve and then add a tablespoon or two Of the concentrate to my water glass throughout the day. This seems to help me! What salt do you recommend?
    Thank you for sharing your insights!!! I greatly appreciate it!
    Teresa

    • Teresa, I use a salt based electrolyte called LMNT. I link to it in the paragraph titled “LMNT” and if you click the highlighted link you can find out more about it. Before I started using this electrolyte I simply put a pinch of Celtic Sea Salt in my water. Let me know if you have any other questions, I’m happy to help :-)

  6. Elana –such an important health post, as usual! We are taught to avoid salt, but for those of us on whole foods, unprocessed diets, that is disastrous advice. My elderly mother (and fellow health nut) was in that category (under doctor’s direction to avoid all salt, for years) until one night when she was rushed to the ER with a “stroke”. Right before they administered dangerous anti-stroke drugs to her, the astute ER doc quickly discovered her sodium level was sub-100!, put her on a sodium drip and within minutes, her stroke-like symptoms vanished. That near fatal experience was a wake up call for her and the rest of us.

    I’ve suffered from migraines since my late 20s, and after almost 30 years of finding no relief from them, about 7 years ago I discovered that proactive salt use was the best way for me to avoid getting them. I now consume at least 1/8t of salt at each meal (morning most important) and let my taste buds tell me if I need more. I also eat some fermented veg and cheese, both of which contain some. I use any good quality sea salt — Real, Celine, Himalayan, Hawaiian, French — a variety. I also get rid of existing headaches (now rare) with salt. This is almost always successful for me within 15-30 mins of taking the salt — I sprinkle about 1/8 t on the back of my hand, lick it off and chase it with some spring water. (Although these days I’d probably lick it off a spoon instead!)

    Re: electrolyte drops — I find them immensely helpful in rapid recovery on the rare occasions when I’m ill. I also take mineral drops at those times too.

    • Susan, yes avoiding salt would have been disastrous for me. Thankfully I listened to my body and also regularly check my blood levels of sodium to back up this hypothesis. The story about your mother is crazy and I’m so glad she had a good doc in the ER, thank heavens! And same here in terms of headaches, mine are in general easily treated with proper hydration –for me that is water, salt, and electrolytes. So glad we are all sharing such important experiences here and that we can learn from each other :-)

Have Something to Add?

Your comment will need to be approved before it will appear on the site.

Home » Are You Sodium Deficient?