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:
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.
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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.
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.
Anecdotally, for me, consuming adequate salt does a couple of things.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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!
I would argue that you are in the “health space.” I’ve learned a ton from your articles and appreciate the research you do and how you share personal experiences to enliven the information you share. Thank you for all you share with us – from health information to recipes and photos of you on the beach!
Katie, I love this argument! Thank you so much for being in this healing space with me :-)
Ruth Newman says
Hello Elana, when I was younger I fainted a few times from low electrolytes and low sodium. Once I was hospitalized overnight because my potassium and electrolytes were so low and I was close to having a heart attack.I drank so much water back then did it flushed out all my minerals. Now I drink water with an electrolyte powder mixed into it every day and my doctor says salt is my friend. I also have low blood pressure and will check to see what my sodium levels are the next time I have blood work. Keep up all the good recipes and the good advice and stay well. Ruth Newman
Ruth, thanks so much for sharing your salty story here. My awesome doctor also tells me that salt is my friend. Thanks so much for being on this healing path with me :-)
I’m a high salt user too. Low normal blood pressure, possibility I have POTS. I’ve fainted many times, but not so much anymore (mostly because Im more careful). I hadn’t heard of salt based electrolytes—interesting.
Lisa, thanks for your comment! I too have low blood pressure :-)
You can put a Himalayan salt rock in a mason jar of water to dissolve. Take a tablespoon of this in another jar of water.
I wondered about the LMNT. If your levels are good, would it be bad to take this.
Thanks Gisele! I plan on taking it even when my levels get into the normal range :-)
How much Himalayan salt in the quart jar?
Frances Klein says
I’ve been taking an electrolyte capsule every day since I started having *almost* fainting spells. It helps keep my sodium wnl and protects my heart. Thank you for spreading the word!
Frances, thanks for chiming in! Salt gets such a bad rap these day. Stay salty :-)
Kate McNabb says
Hi Elana I’m a big fan of your recipes and have many favourites. I look forward to seeing your homemade recipe for hand sanitizers as we are Sold Out in Australia.
Take special care of yourself.
Love from Kate
Kate, what a sweet comment! I’m so happy to hear you are enjoying my recipes. You take special care too ❤️
I read this post after I made cauliflower rice to go with dinner, and it was too salty for me; my husband said “this tastes really good!” I’ve been taking a few crystals of himalayan salt under my tongue anytime I drink water, so my levels must be better today and I don’t need as much salt (yes, I sometimes super salt my food and it tastes good to me).
Salt is so important. Thank you for writing this post!
Adelaide, thanks for sharing your family’s salt story here!
Does this show up in standard bloodwork? I have headaches often and drink quite a bit of water. The docs seem to just waive off headaches.
Thanks in advance! You are inspiring as always!
Jennifer, I believe it is part of standard blood work, but either way I make sure it’s ordered every time :-)
Low sodium will also affect your heart. My mother had reduced the sodium in her diet to the point she ended up in the hospital on saline IVs over it. There are healthier ways to reduce your blood pressure and edema than cutting all salt out of your diet.
Judy, thanks so much for sharing this!
I am forever low in sodium. It came out during a blood test years ago. I have struggled to solve this and will certainly try what you suggest. My doctor suggested adding salt to everything, which I do. But it is not enough. Thank you for sharing!!
Mel, thanks for your comment! And here’s to being on the increased sodium intake path together :-)