Salt has many health benefits and plays a vital role in our body across all significant stages of the human life cycle. Hence it must be consumed, within the recommended amount, through our diet. On the occasion of World Health Day, a day celebrated by the World Health Organization to highlight the many aspects of healthy living. Kavita Devgan, Nutrition expert, Tata Nutrikorner takes us through the significant stages starting from pregnancy, infancy, childhood, middle age and old age and find out why salt is essential across these significant stages of the human life cycle.
Why Do We Eat Salt?
Nutritionist Kavita Devgan explains that salt is by far the most significant dietary source of sodium, chloride, iodine and iron. "Salt” or “sodium”, is an electrolyte, which helps in regulation of water content in the body. Salt, also called Sodium Chloride, is used to treat or prevent sodium loss caused due to the following reasons:
- Excessive sweating, or
- Other causes
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), lack of salt and iodine can lead to brain damage in infants and kids. Also, severe lack of this macronutrient can have a deep impact on the cognitive and motor development, which has a deep connect with how the child performs in school. Young children are particularly at risk because their brain still needs iodine for its development during the first two years of life. Nutritionist Kavita Devgan from Tata Nutrikorner says, “Iodised salt is a protector of cognitive health in newborns, and also essential for brain development in kids between 6 months to 15 years old, which can lead to various health concers due to iodine deficiency. Hence, it is important to monitor that a child is getting enough iodine through their food.”
RECOMMENDED QUANTITY FOR INFANTS: As per WHO and the Iodine Global Network- IGN (formerly ICCIDD), the recommended amount of iodine for age 0-5 years is 90 micrograms (mcg)/day and for age 6-12 years is 120 mcg.
Today, there are many variants of salt in the market, and one must know the difference between them. Most of the salt available today are iodized as a preventive measure taken by the government to eradicate iodine deficiency in our country. Nutritionist Kavita Devgan explains, “Iodine is an essential micronutrient that is required in a small quantity by the body for the production of thyroid hormone. The body does not produce iodine, so it is essential to make it part of our daily diet as consumption of iodized salt is not only a healthy habit but also a requirement.”
Need For Iodine In Women
Small amounts of iodnine are needed regularly when it comes to the nutritional needs of the ladies. Women’s iodine requirements increase substantially, especially during pregnancy, to ensure adequate supply to the foetus. Hence, idodine deficiency becomes a common concern for pregnant ladies as the demand for idonine increases for thyroid hormones starting from the early weeks of pregnancy. While it is essential for women, salt is primarily essential for the brain development of the baby while in the womb.
RECOMMENDED QUANTITY FOR WOMEN: As per the WHO and UNICEF, all pregnant and lactating mothers must get their daily requirement of iodine (250 mcg).
Need For Iodine In The Mid Level
When a person reaches the mid-level of the human life cycle, they face many life challenges. Stressful lifestyle, coupled with altered food habits, has led to an exponential increase in the occurrence of diabetes and high blood pressure among the urban population. Hypertension or high blood pressure often termed as a silent killer is one of the leading health problems of urban India that can be effectively managed by controlling the intake of sodium along with an active lifestyle.
RECOMMENDED SALT INTAKE DURING MID LEVEL: Nutritionist Kavita Devgan explains that the low sodium salt is effective for the elderly population, but they need to consult with their doctors before as the volume of water in the body continue to decrease with age. They are more prone to low blood sodium (hyponatremia), especially those who are under medications.
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