Many doctors recommend increasing salt intake to help combat the symptoms of lightheadeness, low blood pressure, fatigue and brain fog that is often seen in dysautonomia patients.  Dysautonomia patients often buy salt pills,  or expensive supplements and electrolyte drinks to get their salt, but there are easier, more affordable ways to increase salt in your diet.

Salt vs. Sodium – what’s the difference?
Common table salt is about 99% sodium chloride, a naturally occurring mineral.  According to the USDA, 1 g of typical table salt contains 387.6 mg of sodium.

Hypothetically, if your doctor says “aim for 8 grams of salt per day,” how much sodium do you need to equal 8 grams of salt per day?

8 grams of salt pr day x  387.6 milligrams of sodium per gram of salt
= 3101 mg of sodium per day

This means that you’ll need 3101 mg of sodium per day to meet your doctors recommendation of 8 grams of salt.  You can do this!

Let’s say you aren’t used to a high salt diet yet and you can only tolerate sprinkling 1/4 teaspoon of salt on your food throughout the day. Overtime your taste buds will get used to a higher salt diet.  Our trusty table below tells us that 1/4 teaspoon of table salt equals 590 mg of sodium.

3101 mg of sodium required to meet your doctor’s advice
– 590 mg of sodium you will sprinkle on your food throughout the day (1/4 teaspoon of salt)
2511 mg of sodium from other sources

Obtaining 2511 mg of sodium a day from foods and beverages isn’t that difficult (unless you have severe gastroparesis, as some dysautonomia patients do).  In fact, according to the CDC, the average American adult consumes 3,300 mg of sodium per day.  The NHS says that, on average, people in the UK consume 3,200 mg of sodium per day.

This being said, here are some common food items and their sodium levels to help our hypothetical patient find their 2511 mg of sodium.  Please note, we’re not recommending specific brands.  These are just examples.

Food Item Serving Size Sodium
V8 vegetable juice 8oz 420 mg
Morton table salt ¼ tsp 590 mg
Boar’s Head Cold Cut Turkey 2oz 330 mg
Board’s Head American Cheese 2 oz 700 mg
Breakstone Cottage Cheese 4oz 340 mg
Athenos Feta Cheese 1 oz. 340 mg
Kikkoman Soy Sauce 1 tsp. 307 mg
Swanson Chicken Broth 2 cups 1720 mg
Swanson Veggie Broth 2 cups 1600 mg
Swanson Beef Broth 2 cups 1600 mg
Knorr Chicken Boullion Cube 1 cube 1270 mg
DelMonte Creamed Corn 1 cup 480 mg
Vlasic Kosher Dill Pickles 1 oz 210 mg
Kalmatta Olives 1 oz. 429 mg
Goya Manzanilla Olives 2 tbsp. 330 mg
Rold Gold Pretzel Rods 6 pretzel rods 1220 mg
Heinz Ketchup 1 tbsp. 160 mg
Goya Capers 1 tbsp. 380 mg
Oscar Mayer Fully Cooked Bacon 3 pieces 340 mg
Hebrew National Quarter Pound Franks 1 frank 1070 mg

Here are some salty items you can find in popular American restaurants.  Please note that many of these restaurant items contain obscene amounts of calories and fat, with the exception of the Hot & Sour Soup, which is surprisingly low calorie compared to other items on the list.

Panera Bread – ½ sierra turkey, half greek salad 1790 mg
Arby’s Large Mozzarella Sticks 1940 mg
Denny’s Buffalo Chicken Strips 2780 mg
Olive Garden – Chicken Parm Entree 3380 mg
PF Chang’s Hot & Sour Soup 5000 mg
PF Chang’s Beef & Broccoli 3752 mg
Baja Fresh Chicken Tortilla Soup 2760 mg
Dunkin Donuts Salt Bagel 3420 mg
Applebee’s Weight Watchers Chipoltle Lime Chicken 4990 mg


Shake It Like A Salt Shaker
Once you’ve acquired a taste for salt, you can begin to sneak more salt into your foods with a good old-fashioned salt shaker.   Some food items can hide the taste of excessive added salt better than others.  Here are some examples:

mashed or baked white potatoes
baked homemade sweet or white potato fries
almost any steamed or olive oil sauteed veggie
almost any meat
cottage cheese
sour cream
tomato sauces
alfredo/cream sauces

Another trick is to mix salty and sweet flavors.  A little sprinkled salt goes well with brownies, vanilla ice cream, chocolate chip cookies, and watermelon.  Carmel dipping sauce and dark chocolate taste great with lots of salt.  For sweet treats, large grain salt adds a nice crunch and gives you more sodium for less of a salty taste, since your tastebuds won’t come in to contact with as much of the salt compared to smaller grained salts.

Salt pills – worth it?
Salt pills often come in 1000 mg (1 g) tablets.  Some people find these helpful, but most people find that they upset your stomach.  If the salt pill causes vomiting or diarrhea, you can end up losing more salt than you consumed.  Some patients use other electrolyte supplements like Thermotabs.

For comparison, one Thermotab contains 180 mg of sodium and a 1 gram salt pill contains about 388 mg of sodium.  Looking at the table above, you can get this same amount of sodium fairly easily with a one or two pretzel rods.  If salt supplements help you, then by all means use them, but you don’t have to purchase supplements to get your salt needs.

Salt to Sodium Conversion Table
If your doctor has recommended another amount of salt, here’s a handy salt to sodium conversion table.  This is a rough approximation, because each type of salt has a slightly different sodium concentration.

1 gram of salt   = 388 mg of sodium
2 grams of salt = 775 mg of sodium
3 grams of salt = 1163 mg of sodium
4 grams of salt = 1550 mg of sodium
5 grams of salt = 1938 mg of sodium
6 grams of salt = 2326 mg of sodium
7 grams of salt = 2713 mg of sodium
8 grams of salt = 3101 mg of sodium
9 grams of salt = 3488 mg of sodium
10 grams of salt = 3876 mg of sodium
11 grams of salt = 4268 mg of sodium
12 grams of salt = 4656 mg of sodium
13 grams of salt = 5044 mg of sodium
14 grams of salt = 5432 mg of sodium
15 grams of salt = 5820 mg of sodium
16 grams of salt = 6208 mg of sodium
17 grams of salt = 6596 mg of sodium
18 grams of salt = 6984 mg of sodium
19 grams of salt = 7372 mg of sodium
20 grams of salt = 7760 mg of sodium
21 grams of salt = 8148 mg of sodium
22 grams of salt = 8536 mg of sodium
23 grams of salt = 8924 mg of sodium
24 grams of salt = 9312 mg of sodium
25 grams of salt = 9700 mg of sodium
26 grams of salt = 10088 mg of sodium

Don’t Forget the Fluids!
Increasing salt intake really only helps when you also increase your fluid intake.  Most dysautonomia experts recommend consuming 2-3 liters of hydrating fluids per day.  Everyone is different, so ask your doctor how much salt and fluid intake is right for you.


newsalt3Salt comes in many forms.  From left to right, Kosher Salt, Bolivian Rose Salt, Balsamic Infused Salt, Hawaiian Alaea Salt,  Sel Gris from France, Smoked Sea Salt and Table Salt.

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