Sunday, October 23, 2011

Too Much vs Not Enough: Is Stealth Sodium Throwing Off My Count?

According to most sources, >1500-2000mg of sodium is too much and <1200mg is not enough. Recent experience has me questioning these numbers - specifically the 1200mg one.

My Meniere's symptoms had all but disappeared during the summer when I was making a concentrated effort to keep my sodium intake as low as possible. It was probably not even consuming 800mg a lot of days (if my calculations were correct). No dizziness or vertigo, no sense of aural fullness, and most days I did not have any noticeable tinnitus. Went to my first recheck with my doctor and mentioned all this. He warned me not to go too low on sodium, so I started to relax a bit to bring up my daily consumption to around 1200mg. About a month later I was having tinnitus nearly every day and then had a string of horrible vertigo episodes.

After the really bad week of nausea and vertigo, I cut way back on the sodium again. Now that a week has passed with no dizziness, I have had two straight days of quiet. No tinnitus! When my ear doesn't ring, I know I won't have any problems with vertigo. It is a nice feeling.

There are only two conclusions I can draw from this experience. Not sure which one (if either) is correct. Either my daily sodium consumption to prevent Meniere's attacks is much lower than the recommended 1500mg, or I am consuming more sodium than I think I am. The second option seems more plausible. Fresh foods that do not come with a nutritional label may be the problem - especially meats. It is much easier to figure out my sodium intake when the info is there on a nutritional label. I am going to have to compile a list of sodium content for fruits, meats and vegetables so I can make sure I am including it in my sodium counts. Will also have to be more vigilant about buying organic meat that hasn't been injected with salt or MSG.

My other thought is why are the sodium recommendations the same for everyone? Shouldn't it matter what a person weighs? Active vs sedentary? How much water they drink? How much they sweat? For now, I am taking the 1200mg floor with a grain of salt (pun intended). If I am feeling good with 800mg a day and don't have any symptoms of sodium deficiency then that is how I will be eating from now on. But just in case, next time I see my doctor I will request that they order a lab test to make sure my body's level of sodium is within the normal range.