Your Kidneys and Sodium

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World Kidney Day was founded to raise awareness about what our kidneys do for us and educate the public about common yet preventable dangers that can lead to their damage or even failure.

Our kidneys remove toxins and excess water from our bloodstream, but they also help by controlling blood pressure, producing red blood cells and keeping our bones healthy.

©Photo Lenka U

Today, more than 5% of the adult population have some form of kidney damage, and every year millions die prematurely of cardiovascular diseases linked to chronic kidney disease, so it’s important to take care of your kidneys from very early on.

One of the possible dangers for our kidneys, especially for babies and children, is the very common salt we all consume every day in many different forms.

It’s important to know that babies under 12 months of age don’t have their kidneys developed enough to process more than about 1g of salt (400 mg sodium) a day, so no salt should be added to their food at all.

The following are recommended daily maximums for children according to their age (but it’s even healthier to give them even less than the maximum).

  • 1 to 3 years – 2 g salt a day (800 mg sodium)
  • 4 to 6 years – 3g salt a day (1200 mg sodium)
  • 7 to 10 years – 5g salt a day (2000 mg sodium)
  • 11 and over – 6g salt a day (2400 mg sodium)

The recommended daily intake of sodium for healthy adults is 2400 mg, which equals about one teaspoon of salt.

Tips for Keeping Your Kidneys Healthy (via CDC)

  • Keep blood pressure below 130/80 mm/Hg.
  • Stay in your target cholesterol range.
  • Eat less salt and salt substitutes.
  • Eat healthy foods.
  • Stay physically active.
  • Take your medications as prescribed.

If you have diabetes, take these steps, too:

  • Meet blood sugar targets as often as you can.
  • Have an A1c test at least twice a year, but ideally up to four times a year. An A1c test measures the average level of blood sugar over the past three months.
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