Salt need needs investigation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Expensive and extensive studies on the epidemiology of excessive Na intake and its pathology have been conducted over four decades. The resultant consensus that dietary Na is toxic, as well as the contention that it is less so, ignores the root cause of the attractiveness of salted food. The extant hypotheses are that most Na is infiltrated into our bodies via heavily salted industrialised food without our knowledge and that mere exposure early in life determines lifelong intake. However, these hypotheses are poorly evidenced and are meagre explanations for the comparable salt intake of people worldwide despite their markedly different diets. The love of salt begins at birth for some, vacillates in infancy, climaxes during adolescent growth, settles into separate patterns for men and women in adulthood and, with age, fades for some and persists for others. Salt adds flavour to food. It sustains and protects humans in exertion, may modulate their mood and contributes to their ailments. It may have as yet unknown benefits that may promote its delectability, and it generates controversy. An understanding of the predilection for salt should allow a more evidence-based and effective reduction of the health risks associated with Na surfeit and deficiency. The purpose of this brief review is to show the need for research into the determinants of salt intake by summarising the little we know.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1312-1320
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Issue number11
StatePublished - 14 Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author 2020.


  • Causes of salt intake
  • Salt appetite
  • Salt intake
  • Salt intake determinants
  • Salt intake research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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