Important Electrolytes: Sodium and Magnesium
Sodium is an essential mineral and there are several reasons why we recommend taking it in the form of bouillon, table salt or salt tablets while following our prescribed medical weight loss diet:
- To increase sodium intake on diets which cause the rapid loss of sodium. This includes low-carb, ketogenic, paleo, and whole foods diets.
- To help people reach around 4,000-5,000 milligrams total of daily sodium for optimal health.
We didn’t pull these numbers out of thin air. A 2011 JAMA study found that 5,000 milligrams of sodium per day was the sweet spot for minimizing heart attack and stroke risk.
Those on a ketogenic diet eat very low-carb and following such a low-carb diet will keep insulin low, which consequently makes your kidneys excrete the mineral at an increased rate. Also– when you eliminate processed food (which can contribute up to 70% of intake for people in the US!) skipping replenishment simply isn’t enough to make up for those losses.
Magnesium is an equally important mineral that aids in energy production, DNA repair, muscle synthesis, restful sleep, and many other things we care about– including increasing the amount of water in the intestines, which can help with bowel movements.
Up to 30% of the population may be deficient in magnesium.[*] This is likely why we see positive effects from magnesium supplementation on sleep, strength, anxiety, and depression.
Anthropological evidence suggests that our ancestors consumed about 600 mg of magnesium per day and this seems to be a reasonable target for optimal health.
The Problem With Low Salt Diets
When you don’t get enough salt in your diet, your body goes into retention mode. You release sodium retention hormones (aldosterone, renin, angiotensin, and norepinephrine) that make your kidneys retain the mineral.
Unfortunately, these hormones also raise blood pressure so contrary to popular belief, sodium restriction is linked to elevated blood pressure in healthy people. The human body is such a complex system!
Osteoporosis is another consequence of a low salt diet. Your bones serve as a sodium reservoir—and when you limit salt intake, your body pillages that reservoir, as well as your calcium and magnesium.
Low-sodium symptoms are: low energy, headaches, muscle cramps, fatigue, weakness, and insomnia.
You may have heard us reference the “keto-flu” which is characterized by a lot of the symptoms listed above. While sodium is not a cure-all; most people—(especially active, health-conscious participants of our program) need more salt to feel and perform their best.
As with any recommendations, please check with your medical provider for any individual contraindications regarding your sodium intake.