Salt / Sodium's role in accelerating aging

Does anyone else feel like sodium is accelerating aging? First of all, let’s not forget the association higher serum sodium has with premature aging: Higher Serum Sodium Linked to Premature Aging - #3 by AlexKChen

And the causal effect sodium has in increasing stroke risk and all cause mortality, as shown in link of randomized controlled trial with salt substitute:

If we think about where there is the most sodium - it is in processed foods, and think retirement home food. There is a remarkable association and causality at play here. Associated with the most processed foods, associated with premature aging, causally increases blood pressure and strokes, cardiovascular disease and death.

There is also the intuitive aspect of sodium’s role in accelerated aging. It seems like a poison. Once you eat something high in sodium, you almost immediately become thirsty to dilute it out. It is like most people are cycling from low/high sodium states depending on sodium intake and fluid intake. Don’t forget eating late at night and having higher sodium levels throughout the night as people are not awake to keep sodium levels from becoming unhealthy.

Then another aspect, is that older people tend to lose their thirst response as they get older, not only is their food loaded with sodium most of the time, they rarely become thirsty leading to all types of problems. I feel like there is so many different angles showing sodium to play a role in aging that’s very bad, and might be a very significant factor. Of course the body requires some level of sodium, and there is a minimum and that level doesn’t have any of these effects at any level as far as I can tell.


As part of my protocol I supplement with quite a lot of Sodium*. However, if I balance out the cations correctly I can keep the serium sodium level below 140 (mEg/L). I have not entirely worked this out yet and I am of the view that gene expression is the important target.

I would agree, however, that it is a good idea to keep Sodium at a lower level. Sadly not all of my labs test for Sodium.

*That’s because I want more citrate and don’t want to overdose on Magnesium, Calcium or Potassium.


The easiest explanation would be higher sodium → higher blood pressure → earlier death. There’s nothing about salt that makes it more toxic or accelerates cellular aging processes per se.

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The association between sodium excretion (intake) and all cause mortality is U-shaped but on the left side food is bland and mortality rises much faster than on the right side so I stay on the right. Not much downside but life is a lot less bland (iirc 200mmol is around 12g of salt)


Observational studies and U-shaped curves again :smiley:


The problem is what the sodium is doing I think, namely reducing hydration of cells. Of course if someone drinks enough water, there’s no problem, but that might be harder than expected. Like when sleeping after high sodium meal, diminished thirst response in general or from older age. There is also the moment after a meal and when thirst is triggered where there probably will be sub-optimal hydration.

Even mild hypohydration where serum sodium levels slightly increase, even within normal levels, decrease mouse lifespan.

Using a mouse model of lifelong mild water restriction, we demonstrated that hypohydration led to an increased metabolic rate and energy expenditure and induced a low-grade proinflammatory and procoagulative state; these conditions are all known promoters of chronic morbidity, disability, and premature death (1721). Consistently, water restriction caused accelerated renal, cardiac, and neuromotor degenerative changes and decreased mouse lifespan.

And the mouse adapted to the decrease in hydration levels, and starting by the end of the life “it all came crashing down”, similar to how aging is slow but then has large effects:

the mice easily adapted to such water restriction and showed no visible distress.


See how the mice look aged and frail.


We get thirsty after a higher sodium meal because water is pulled out of our cells to dilute the blood from too high sodium levels I think.

The WR mice had also accelerated metabolism (energy expenditure) which apparently is a risk factor for accelerated aging, which makes me think about how good too much exercise is as well:

These results indicated that WR mice remodeled metabolism toward metabolic water formation that allowed them to respond efficiently to a water deficit and stay in water balance. Conversely, to achieve such efficiency the WR mice had to increase energy expenditure (Figure 1, J–M). This reaction is a risk factor for accelerated aging (18) and could contribute to a decreased life span (Figure 1H).

The water restriction (high sodium) also hit many different diseases negatively, and the water restricted mice even had lower BP!

That’s an association study on people with type 1 diabetes, there’s lots of confounding factors (like frailty, not eating enough food), that increase mortality. The urinary collection 1 time in 24h period is also apparently controversial as it doesn’t really capture the sodium intake that accurately.

To me this is all starting to make sense, that minimum sodium intake is good. The association with fruit and vegetables that are low in sodium and high in water also is another datapoint of association. I’d imagine the centenarians in the blue zones didn’t eat that much sodium, like the Okinawans that ate mostly sweet potato. I don’t know about people around the Med when they ate a lot of grains and beans with fruit and vegetables and olive oil.


Which mice do you want to be?


You can use sodium-free spices, lime juice, etc… And apparently people adapt to a low sodium diet and find flavor in food they didn’t otherwise.

….or you could use a salt substitutes which contains potassium chloride, either alone or mixed with regular salt (sodium chloride). Sometimes called ‘lite’ or low-sodium’ salt.

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My understanding from my interviews of Rick Johnson MD (kidney doc) is that sodium is not a problem unless you can’t pee it out. Stay hydrated and watch BP (once the kidneys start getting damaged, you will start accumulating sodium which increases BP…which feeds back and damages the kidneys more!). Drink extra water when you eat extra sodium was the main advice.


Humans are not mice. Low sodium kills especially in the elderly in the heat or endurance athletes (most marathon runners that succumb during a race do so because of hypomatremia)

And unless you have heart failure it is much saver and tastier to err on the side of higher sodium intake

It’s not low sodium, it is an electrolyte imbalance, and it’s probably a disease causing very low sodium levels. Not much sodium is required to keep electrolytes in balance, I think 500 mg for healthy adults.

Inadequate sodium intakes rarely result in hyponatremia, even in those on very low-salt diets, because the kidneys increase the excretion of water in order to maintain serum osmolality (i.e., electrolyte-water balance).

If someone has kidney disease etc then they should be careful in either direction.
And everyone knows about athletes drinking too much water and sweating out sodium, that’s for very long and intense exercise like marathon runners…

The body needs only a small amount of sodium (less than 500 milligrams per day) to function properly. That’s a mere smidgen — the amount in less than ¼ teaspoon. Very few people come close to eating less than that amount. Plus, healthy kidneys are great at retaining the sodium that your body needs.

You’re grasping at straws. The evidence is overwhelming, isn’t it?


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It’s hypomatremia and heat will do the same, essentially in the elderly

Balancing it with more potassium I think is a good idea. If I happen to have a heavy sodium meal, I try to take 400mg of extra potassium chloride powder.


I am experimenting with 4 cations in various ratios.

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And why does the heat do the same in the elderly?

Does not have to be the result of a low sodium diet. Do you really think the elderly that dies from heat does so because they don’t eat enough sodium? There are a lot of confounding factors, as usual from the claims you are making…

Starting by showing a source. Motivated reasoners are so annoying to discuss with, they typically are lazy and put the burden of proof on everyone else.

Don’t forget us perhaps-rare folks who have low BP; salt is the only solution I’ve been offered. You have another idea, I’m all ears (blood vessels, a bit of tongue, some skin, and a few other things besides… :stuck_out_tongue: )


Obviously Sodium Citrate is an option as well as “Salt” (Sodium Chloride).


Have you tried

Tolvaptan, sold under the brand name Samsca among others, is an aquaretic drug that functions as a selective, competitive vasopressin receptor 2 antagonist used to treat hyponatremia associated with congestive heart failure, cirrhosis, and the syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone.

….I don’t know if it’s applicable to your situation ?

Thanks but no; my BP is only annoyingly low, not dangerously low, and not low enough that I want to resort new drugs, given that I am an atypical responder, and nearly every drug experiment I make has side-effect costs. But thanks.

@sol, I used UreaAide off and on for for a few months in 2021-2022 when I struggled a bit with mild hyponatremia (129), low blood pressure (75-80/55) and couldn’t tolerate florinef as prescribed by my doctor. What ultimately helped me (which is not necessarily positive for longevity) was increasing my protein intake. Everyone is different of course but it might be worth reading up on further. I was in a precarious situation in regards to being able to function at work so it was worth it in my situation. Just figured I’d share my experience. I never received a diagnosis for what I went through so there’s that…
Sometimes my bp is still in the high 80’s/60 but usually it’s 100/70 and my sodium labs now always come back in the normal range. When I tried to solve my issues by simply increasing my salt intake it didn’t help. Go figure. Perhaps someone smarter than me understands all this better than I do!