How Sodium Affects Blood Pressure

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Sodium affects blood pressure by allowing the body to retain fluids that put more pressure on the walls of the blood vessels. Understand how excess sodium increases blood pressure with information from a registered and licensed dietitian in this free video on healthy eating.

Part of the Video Series: Health & Nutrition
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Video Transcript

My name is Christine Marquette, and I'm a registered and licensed dietitian with Marquette Nutrition and Fitness, and I'm going to talk to you about how sodium affects blood pressure. Sodium has been shown to increase blood pressure. One of the reasons is that sodium is an electrolyte. It's a mineral, and it actually affects your fluid balance in your body. Part of that fluid balance is how much fluid is in your blood vessels. So if your sodium is causing you to retain water, you will have an excess buildup of fluid in your blood vessels that will put too much pressure -- literally -- on the walls of your blood vessels. So for that reason, high intake of sodium can increase your blood pressure. The sodium intake that's needed will vary per individual based on their size, their gender, their activity level. For example, someone who is an athlete and is sweating a lot on a regular basis because they're doing so much exercise, they can actually have a higher intake of sodium than someone who is sedentary without having that negative effect on their blood pressure. But for your average person, sodium does have a significant increase on your blood pressure. One of the primary ways to control your sodium intake is to limit your use of processed foods. But in general, sodium does increase blood pressure.

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