Salt during pregnancy: why it is important

Like many issues to do with pregnancy, recommendations have changed on how much salt should be in your diet. Advice on this issue has taken a complete turn around from that given in the past.

Do not limit your sodium intake

You may have family and friends telling you that you need to limit your sodium intake during pregnancy as it was once thought to contribute to water retention and bloating. Now, experts believe the opposite – you should increase your sodium intake for a number of reasons, one being that it could actually be beneficial in helping maintain adequate fluid levels.

In a nutshell, progesterone level in your pregnant body causes an increased sodium content in your urine. You essentially wee out more salt when pregnancy. This needs to be replaced.

Sodium should not be restricted during pregnancy your doctor put you on a low sodium diet for specific medical reasons.

Iodine is important too

Pregnant women need higher levels of iodine, as a lack of this nutrient can retard normal development in a baby. Your body need it too to make essential thyroid hormones. If these are missing you can end up with an enlarged thyroid gland (goiter).


Not all salts are the same

Saying you need more sodium and iodine does not mean you can suddenly load up on junk and processed foods.

Standard table salt is chemically cleansed, highly refined, and contained in virtually every processed food you buy. Essential minerals are stripped during the processing to the point that iodide has to be added back in to prevent goiter as mentioned above.

Alternatively, unrefined sea salt is a naturally occurring complex of sodium chloride. Without all the processing, using sea salt means your body benefits from the inclusion of major minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, and around 80 essential trace minerals.

So replace your table salt with sea salt but make sure it is genuine. Real sea salt is rarely white in colour, so choose products with differing colours as it is an indication of the salt’s mineral content.

In moderation

So, feel safe in the knowledge that you need some good salt in your diet. However, like many things in pregnancy, this should be done in moderation. The amount recommended to consume each day is quite small and therefore measured in micrograms. It is recommended that you consume 220µg of salt during pregnancy and 270µg while breastfeeding per day.

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