By Don Matesz
Many people have been convinced that salt – sodium chloride – is important in the diet.
Some people have written books to convince people to consume more salt. James DiNicolantonio, for example:
But do you really need mineral salt in your diet?
No. There is no dietary requirement for salt apart from food. The Yanomami tribe of South America never uses salt on or in food. They show no signs of either sodium or chloride deficiency.
Salt was once so scarce that it was used as money. Our word "salary" comes from a time when Roman soldiers were paid with wages of salt. The high value and scarcity of salt meant that most people did not use it in food, except perhaps for those who were wealthy. Our modern high salt intake is a consequence of modern salt extraction techniques.
The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academies of the U.S. states that dietary sodium deficiency does not normally occur in man regardless of salt intake:
For example "evidence" of dietary sodium and chloride deficiency they cite for example this study of infants fed an artificial formula Neo-Mull-Soy: