Small amounts of salt are essential for our health. Adults only need 1g of salt per day and children even less. Too much salt is dangerous, especially in children.
Worryingly, a lot of salt is added to foods including bread, soup, biscuits and ready-meals meaning that consuming too much salt is easily done. Here are some facts and advice that should help you manage your child’s salt intake:
1. Children ages 4-6 should consume a maximum of 3g salt/day.
A bag of crisps has around 0.5 grams of salt which is 1/6th of the maximum recommended daily allowance (RDA).
2. Children ages 7-10 should consume a maximum of 5g/day.
One bowl of Cornflakes contains more than 1g of salt, so be careful – you can reach 5g of salt very quickly!
3. Children ages 11+ can have a maximum of 6g/day.
One portion of Prawns contains almost 2g of salt – that’s a third of the daily intake for children of this age. You should be careful not to consume large amounts of seafood in general.
4. A pizza has around 5 grams of salt!!
That’s equal to a 10 year old child’s maximum daily recommended allowance in one meal!!
5. Check nutritional information before you buy.
Salt content is typically given as figures for sodium. Food containing more than 0.6g of sodium per 100g is considered to be high in salt.
6. Work out the amount of salt in foods by multiplying the amount of sodium by 2.5.
For example, 1g of sodium per 100g is the same as 2.5g salt per 100g.
7. Avoid salty snacks.
Swap crisps and biscuits for low-salt snacks instead. Try healthy options such as dried fruit or vegetable sticks instead.
8. Choose unsalted or reduced salt options for flavouring.
You can use pepper, herbs, garlic, spices, ginger or lemon juice instead of salt or other salty flavourings.
9. Ensure that they don’t develop a taste for salty food.
If children are not used to eating salty foods from a young age they will be less likely to eat too much salt as they grow older.
10. Excess salt can lead to major health problems.
These include the following:
- Osteoporosis – salt flushes out the calcium, vital for strong bones, from your body if you have too much
- Heart attacks – from high blood pressure
- Stomach cancer – salt can damage the lining of the stomach, making it more vulnerable to the effects of the major risk factor H.pylori, and salt may also increase the growth and action of the bacterium making it more likely to cause damage. A quarter of the 7,000 new cases in the UK each year can be attributed to excess salt intake.
- Kidney Stones and Disease – caused by a build up of calcium in the kidneys. Both a high salt intake and high blood pressure can cause too much calcium to be excreted by the kidneys into the urine, leading to a build up of calcium and therefore kidney stones.
- Research shows that higher intake of salt is linked to an increase in stomach cancer. The World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research concluded that excess salt is a ‘probable cause of stomach cancer’.
We hope you found this article beneficial. We’re not saying you should completely cut out salt – simply be vigilant with your child’s salt intake. Did we omit anything important? What do you use for flavouring your food? How do you make sure your children eat less salt? Please let us know in the comments below.