The majority of people worldwide consume far more sodium, mostly from salt, than is required physiologically. The accumulated evidence of a cause and effect relationship between high intakes of sodium and hypertension, a major cause of cardiovascular disease, is now convincing. As a result, in 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization issued a joint report calling for a reduction in population salt intake to 5 g or less per day (<2,000 mg sodium). A follow-up WHO consultation, held in 2007, concluded that population-wide reductions in dietary sodium consumption are highly cost-effective. Hence, there is a need to give priority to the implementation of national strategies, policies and programs aimed at the reduction of dietary salt consumption.
As is generally the case internationally, in Canada the consumption of sodium is excessive. It is currently estimated that the average sodium intake is 3,400 mg per person per day from all sources…Historical data on sodium consumption in Canada is very limited. A Canadian study [by W.W. Priddle] on the relationship between sodium, potassium and hypertension, published in 1962, measured 24-hour sodium excretion, conducted for 14 consecutive days, by nine adults with an average age of 58 years. It found a daily excretion of 162.2 mEq, which indicates a daily intake of about 3,740 mg of sodium.
The primary source of sodium in the Canadian diet is salt (sodium chloride). Other sources that contribute to the sodium ingested by Canadians include the flavour enhancer monosodium glutamate and food additives such as sodium benzoate, sodium bicarbonate, sodium citrate, sodium nitrite and sodium acid pyrophosphate. The majority of sodium found in the typical diet comes from processed food products, accounting for 77% of the total. Another 12% is naturally occurring, while the discretionary sources account for only 11% (with 6% added at the table and 5% added during cooking). Thus, 88% of all the sodium in the diet is added during food manufacturing or preparation and is not present naturally.