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How Much Sodium do Water Softeners Add?

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The human body requires sodium (salt) to help balance fluids, regulate blood pressure, assist with the contraction and relaxation of muscles, and also to help transmit nerve impulses from the body to the brain. However, because salt is not manufactured in the body, it must be added or obtained from the foods we eat. Salt is also ingested through other sources, such as water softeners. It is important to be aware of how much sodium this adds.

Ingesting Salt

Though the human body operates at optimum efficiency when it receives the correct amount of salt, it can quickly get out of whack when too much salt is added. Unfortunately, the amount of sodium the body needs is quite a bit less than what humans currently ingest in an average diet. Where is all this salt coming from? The majority of the salt ingested by humans comes directly from table salt, which is considered the worse kind of salt. A better choice would be unrefined sea salt. Though most processed foods have already been thoroughly salted, habit comes into play when preparing these. Too often we reach for the salt shaker. When food is placed on individual serving plates, most people sprinkle their food again with salt.

How Much Sodium is Too Much?

According to the Dietary Guidelines, a daily requirement of no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium, or about a teaspoonful of table salt, per adult is needed. However, those with special doctor's instructions, or who have been diagnosed with hypertension, as well as individuals who are black, middle aged, or older, should limit sodium intake to no more than 1,500 mgs per day. When more sodium than is needed is ingested on a regular basis, it can cause disruptive long-term health effects. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is one of the worse culprits. Hypertension causes the heart to work much harder than intended, and can eventually lead to dangerous issues such as heart attack, stroke and kidney disease. While humans must add some salt to their diet, there is concern over what type of salt is added. Within the nucleus of the salt debate sits the infamous water softener and the burning question: Do water softeners add sodium to my water? Since water softeners work by adding salt to the water tank, it stands to reason that, unless the drinking water or perhaps cold water faucets are somehow bypassed, sodium will get into the drinking water. Therefore, the better question would be: How much sodium do water softeners add to my water?

Sodium from Water Softeners

Water softeners do add some sodium, but the amount is usually not enough to make a difference. The real difference between water softeners is actually the difference between the hardness of the water in one home as opposed to the hardness of the water in another home. The rule of thumb is: The harder the water that is to be softened, the more sodium is needed. Hard water is composed of more magnesium and calcium deposits than regular tap water. The sodium in most water softeners removes mineral ions and replaces them with sodium ions, therefore, the more minerals in the original water, the more sodium needed. But even when the water is extra hard, the sodium that is added should not be enough to cause much of a dietary difference. If genuine concern over how much salt your water softener is adding to your drinking water is an issue, try bypassing the cold water faucets, switch to a water purification system that does not use sodium, and/or use bottled water for cooking and drinking purposes.

Sources: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sodium/AN00317

http://www.riversideonline.com/health_reference/Heart-Disease/AN00317.cfm

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sodium/NU00284

http://www.lenntech.com/processes/softening/faq/water-softener-faq.htm

http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm209155.htm

http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm181577.htm

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/03/18/salt-water-soaked-chicken-isnt-natural-at-all.aspx


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