Children should consume even less sodium than their parents. But, because of society’s reliance on fast food and packaged foods, youngsters are often consuming unhealthy levels.
How sodium affects your children
- Excess sodium intake leads to higher levels of blood pressure in children.
- High blood pressure as a child leads to high blood pressure as an adult.
- By consuming too much sodium, children develop a preference for salty foods and make less healthy choices as adults.
- Eating too much sodium as a child could affect health in later life.
- In addition to cardiovascular disease, sodium has been linked to obesity, stomach cancer, osteoporosis and asthma.
Adequate Intake of sodium per day for children (recommended average daily intake of a nutrient):
1,000 mg for children aged 1-3
1,200 mg for children aged 4-8
1,500 mg for children aged 9-18
Tolerable Upper Intake Level of sodium per day for children (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. In other words, it is the maximum amount of sodium that should be consumed in a day):
- 1,500 mg – 2,200 mg for children and adolescents aged 1 to 13
- Up to 2,300 mg for children aged 14 and older
- Babies’ kidneys are not yet mature enough to deal with any added sodium.
- The amount of sodium babies actually require is very small.
- It is important to never add salt to any baby food.
- There is enough sodium in breast milk and in infant formula to meet the needs of a baby.
Never add salt to baby foods.
When making your own baby foods, avoid using processed foods that are not made specifically for babies.
- Even when children begin to eat the same foods as the rest of the family, it is important to not add any salt to their food.
- Check labels and choose products with less than 200 mg of sodium per serving.
- Preventing children from developing a taste for salty foods will reduce the likelihood of them having a high-sodium diet later in life.
- Reduce their intake of convenience foods like pizza, subs, burgers and processed meat and advise teens to limit chips, salty snacks and high-sodium breakfast cereals.
- Take the time to ensure that they have healthy meals and are aware of the risks involved in consuming a diet high in sodium.