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Ask Dr. Gourmet

How much salt does the body need? Can we get that from vegetables alone?

Do you recommend against adding table salt while cooking and before eating?

Can we get all the required sodium from the vegetables that we eat? I have heard that the amount of sodium the body needs/uses is around 300mg per day. Is that correct?

Dr. Gourmet Says...

a bowl of freshly steamed broccoli

I don't recommend using added salt at the table. I am a big fan of measuring salt carefully when cooking recipes.

Here's the minimum Recommended Daily Allowance of sodium for different age groups.

  Age group Minimum sodium
requirement (mg/day)
0-0.5 year
120 mg
0.5-1 year
200 mg
1 year
225 mg
2-5 years
300 mg
6-9 years
400 mg
10-18 years
500 mg
500 mg
Pregnant Women  
569 mg
Lactating Women  
635 mg

It would be very easy to get the minimum RDA for sodium from veggies alone. Eight ounces of raw broccoli has about 75 mg, for instance. Many other foods contain a fair amount of sodium in their natural state: for example, a cup of milk has 125 mg and 4 ounces of beef has about 70 mg.

Thanks for writing,

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP
Dr. Gourmet