Solid scientific research shows that an adequate intake of sodium for most adult Canadians is 1,500 mg or less on a daily basis.

For those of us with diets chock-full of fresh fruits and vegetables, 1,500 mg is relatively easy to achieve.

For others, who eat a lot  of processed and packaged foods, store-bought breads, luncheon meats,  cheese, soups and sauces, getting down to the healthy level is more  difficult. That’s because most of the sodium we consume is added during  processing – the so called hidden sodium. It is used as a cheap preservative and flavour enhancer for products that don’t always contain fresh-tasting ingredients.

This is why it is important to read nutrition labels.

As a general rule, you should eat foods low in  sodium (less than 200 mg per serving). And stick to a daily total of no  more than 1,500 mg. In fact, if most of us followed this simple rule,  the rate of stroke and heart disease could drop by 30 per cent in  Canada!

Two numbers are often discussed in relation to sodium consumption: One is the Adequate Intake and the other is Tolerable Upper Intake Level.

  1. Adequate Intake (AI) is the recommended average daily intake of a nutrient.
  2. Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL), on the other hand, is “the highest continuous daily intake of a  nutrient that does not appear to carry risks of adverse health effects  in most members of a given group, defined by stage of life and gender.” (In other words, it is the maximum amount of sodium that should be consumed in a day.)

Adequate intakes of sodium per day:
1,500 mg for people aged 9-50
1,300 mg for people aged 50-70
1,200 mg for seniors over 70 years of age

Tolerable upper intake levels of sodium per day:
2,300 mg for people aged 14 or older.