A New Test to Tell Your Personal Salt Index

By: Suzanne Wilson Email
By: Suzanne Wilson Email

April 30, 2013

Salt is a part of our daily diet and most of us have been told to watch how much of it we should consume. Now, one UVa. doctor has found that each person has their own personal salt index.

Up until recently, doctors were saying that lower salt intake was better for you. Now, Robin Felder, UVa. Professor of Pathology and Associate Director of Clinical Chemistry, has developed a test that can tell you exactly how much salt you need in your diet. For some people, having too much or too little salt can cause serious problems.

Felder said, "If you eat too much salt if you're one of the 15 percent then you'll possibly die of stroke, cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, or blindness so what we wanted to do was diagnose those individuals so what we wanted to do was diagnose those individuals that have sodium issues. Also, diagnose individuals at the other end of the spectrum. There's a paradoxical group of people that actually, if they lower their salt to far, their blood pressure goes up."

Right now, the test can only be found in the lab. After years of studying 183 adults, the study is one step closer to being in your doctors office.

To find out each individuals personal salt intake, tests are run on kidney cells found in urine. From there, the exact amount of salt you should consume is known. It's typically between a half teaspoon to two teaspoons of salt but, it does look like a lot less than you would think.

Felder demonstrated, "To understand how much that is the vial here is the lowest amount of salt they are recommending elders and salt sensitive people, about a half a teaspoon. This is what a teaspoon of salt looks like, it's not very much at all. This is probably what most of us are eating on a daily basis."

Felder is looking into next studying how healthy salt reductions are in children. He wants to find out personal salt indices for children and set them up on a health diets that will give them healthy habits for their future. It is also unknown how a personal salt index may change with age.

Felder hopes to have his lab ready to receive urine samples in the next year. His ultimate goals is to have these tests available in ever doctors office so you can find out your personal salt index.

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