The excess salt appetite of humans is not due to sodium loss in adulthood

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In seeking the determinants of high salt intake, studies in rat have shown that sodium depletion in utero, neonatally, or in maturity, permanently enhances salt appetite. In humans too, salt appetite is permanently enhanced after perinatal sodium loss, but it is not known if sodium loss in adults also enhances salt intake. If it does, it might contribute to high sodium intake and its associated pathologies. Therefore, using methods that revealed the perinatal determinants of sodium appetite, here we evaluated whether salt appetite is enhanced in adults with a varied history of sodium loss. We find that putative sodium loss due to hyperhidrosis, hemorrhage, dehydration, or breastfeeding, does not increase salt appetite significantly. The findings contrast with the many studies showing enduring enhancement of salt appetite by perinatal sodium loss in humans, and suggest that lifelong salt appetite is established very early in development. In turn this counsels very early intervention to prevent lifelong excess sodium intake.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-337
Number of pages7
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - 7 Sep 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funded in part by Israel Science Foundation grant no. 902/00-2. I thank my students for carrying out the experiments: Haya Miller, Yuval Holzman and Yair Hillel (1i), Shir Ben-Menachem (1ii), Hadar Erez (2i), Liron Brooks (2ii), Michal Butler-Shapira and Galia Golan (3i), Revital Abuhacira and Hamutal Shalev (3ii), Nachum Freidman (3iii), Hadar Erez and Gish (4i), and Shai Michael and Iris Turgeman (4ii). I thank the Israel Magen David Adom blood bank for permission for Experiment 2.


  • High salt intake
  • Human
  • Salt appetite
  • Sodium appetite
  • Sodium deficit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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