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Recent clinical studies have suggested a link between sodium intake in seniors and the reduced capacity for mental focus. Seniors consuming too much salt may have trouble putting together a golf score or completing a crossword puzzle. Yet, little is known about how low sodium affects brain function or how to treat its negative effects.

Still, the fact remains that seniors consuming too much sodium do face health risks associated with other facets of the body, including high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

Sodium’s main function for seniors is to help maintain fluid balance in the body. It’s a crucial chemical for nerve impulse conduction and muscle contraction. The Food and Nutrition Board recommends an Adequate Intake of 1,300 milligrams of sodium per day from ages 51 to 70 and a slightly lower intake of just 1,200 milligrams per day after age 70. For the average older adult, this level of intake is very easy to exceed.

Here are some tips for maintaining healthy sodium levels:

  1. Be aware of nutritional facts for condiments. Many condiments, including soy sauce and steak sauce, are excessively high in sodium.
  2. Increase your potassium intake. Potassium-rich foods such as citrus, bananas, and tomatoes are naturally low in sodium and may help regulate your blood pressure.
  3. Don’t add salt to your meal. The balance of salt and cooked food is typically one of the key factors in imparting flavor on a dish. This means that the preparer has likely already salted the food. Avoid adding additional salt. It’s easy!