Five clever ways to reduce your child’s salt intake

By admin
11 June 2014

As adults, we know too much salt in our diets can be hazardous to our health, with ailments ranging from high blood pressure and stroke to hearth failure and kidney stones. But what does it do to the growing bodies of our children?

As adults, we know too much salt in our diets can be hazardous to our health, with ailments ranging from high blood pressure and stroke to hearth failure and kidney stones. But what does it do to the growing bodies of our children?

How does too much salt affect your child?

Too much salt can leave kids dehydrated, especially if they don’t drink enough water to make up for the high salt intake. During activities in the sun children may suffer from cramps, headaches, nausea and dizzy spells. Too much salt can also affect the digestive tract and stomach of a child leading to symptoms of nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps or diarrhoea. Young teens who eat too much salt can also develop hypertension.

How much is too much?

Breastfed babies have enough salt in their diet simply through ingesting breast milk. But when children start eating solid foods it’s important moms keep the following guidelines in mind.

The maximum recommended amount of salt for babies and children are:

  • Up to 12 months – less than 1 g of salt a day (less than 0,4 g sodium)
  • One to three years – 2 g of salt a day (0,8 g sodium)
  • Four to six years – 3 g of salt a day (1,2 g sodium)
  • Seven to 10 years – 5 g of salt a day (2 g sodium)
  • 11 years and older – 6 g of salt a day (2,4g sodium)

Food that has more than 0,6 g of sodium per 100 g is high in salt. You can work out the amount of salt in foods by multiplying the amount of sodium by 2,5. For example, 1 g of sodium per 100 g is the same as 2,5 g salt per 100 g.

Tips to reduce your child’s salt intake

  • Give them healthy, low-salt snacks: Choose fresh and dried fruit, yoghurt and raw vegetable sticks over potato chips and other salty snacks.
  • Choose healthier sandwich toppings: Chicken or tuna without added salt is healthier than ham and cheese.
  • Don’t add a lot of salt while cooking your child’s meal.
  • Discourage the addition of salt at the table.
  • Check food labels for levels of sodium:  If the sodium content isn’t mentioned, don’t buy these foods.

- Shandukani Mulaudzi

Sources: www.actiononsalt.org.uk, plymouth.gov.uk, www.nhs.uk, livinghealthy360.com, livestrong.com

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