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Sea salt nutrition

This article on sea salt nutrition takes a look at the importance of some of the minerals and trace elements present in natural sea salt.

Sea salt nutrition is not a subject that is much studied. As far as most scientists / nutritionists are concerned, there is no difference between natural sea salt vs table salt or refined salt, which is basically sodium chloride.

So while many studies have been done on the health effects of sodium, especially on sodium / salt and high blood pressure, other components of natural sea salt are largely ignored.

To an extent, this lack of interest in sea salt nutrition is understandable. Because the various minerals that make up natural sea salt are present in extremely small amounts. A rough composition of natural sea salt is as follows:

This is a very rough composition because sea salt from different sources vary in contents (even though the composition of sea water is almost constant throughout the world).

Variations arise partly from differences in the production process. Most white sea salt are partially refined, with the magnesium chloride (which has a bitter taste) removed. Celtic sea salt and other grey sea salts have the magnesium chloride intact.

An analysis of Celtic Sea salt shows the following composition:

Chloride 50.90 %
Sodium 33.00 %
Sulfur 0.820 %
Magnesium 0.441 %
Potassium 0.227 %
Calcium 0.128 %
Silicon 0.052 %
Carbon 0.049 %
Iron 0.012 %
Aluminium 0.0095 %
Praseodymium 0.0029 %
Strontium 0.00275%
Zinc 0.00275 %
Copper 0.00195 %

The rest make up just 0.01 percent, some as little as 0.0000... So we are really talking about very tiny amounts here. However, it is not reasonable to assume that just because a substance occurs in very tiny amounts, it is not important.

One example, not related to salt, is Vitamin B12. The body needs very little of it and its requirements are measured in micrograms, whereas the requirements for most vitamins are measured in milligrams - thousands of times more.

Another example, related to sea salt nutrition is iodine. Its presence in natural sea salt is described as "negligible". And even in iodized salt, which is salt specially fortified with added iodine, it accounts for only about 0.02 percent, or less. Adding just that very tiny amount is enough to prevent diseases associated with iodine deficiency, which includes physical and mental retardation.

Daily sea salt nutrition - zinc

And just because some of these minerals are more abundant elsewhere, it also does not mean that the tiny amounts found in natural sea salt are not important.

Zinc, for example, is known to play important roles in the body's immune system as well as in maintaining the health of the prostate gland in men, possibly protecting against prostate cancer. Zinc is most abundant in oysters, followed distantly by red meats (beef, lamb), liver, seeds and nuts (particularly pumpkin seeds).

Natural sea salt is not a significant source of zinc. But it is a daily source for everyone, rich and poor. In contrast, some of the other foods rich in zinc are affordable and accessible only to some people. Whether it is oyster, beef or pumpkin seeds, it is not practical for all people to eat these foods all the time.

Sea salt nutrition - potassium

Even potassium, which is abundant in vegetables, may not always be accessible. Before the advent of modern transport and food distribution systems, people in cold climates had very little vegetables to eat during winter - and they relied on SALTED vegetable pickles like sauerkraut.

In warmer climates, where vegetables grow all year round, there may also be people without access to a regular supply of vegetables. A friend of mine once did social work with some tribes people in Northeast Thailand. He said that because of poverty and drought, the daily diet of the people consisted of rice and salt, with hardly any vegetables, let alone meat.

As mentioned in another article about potassium in sea salt nutrition, potassium plays a major role in preventing high blood pressure, even though high blood pressure is commonly associated with salt intake. Taking sea salt alone may not provide enough potassion to prevent high blood pressure. But sea salt taken with other foods has been shown not to produce high blood pressure, whereas refined salt does.

Sea salt nutrition - other trace elements

There are many other important minerals and trace elements in natural sea salt, including:

Natural sea salt nutrition is obviously not sufficient. It is not enough because nobody can survive on eating salt plus nothing else. But as part of a diet, even a very spartan diet consisting of rice or some other grain and little else, sea salt nutrition does provide the basic bare essentials to keep a person from falling seriously ill.

A daily dose of natural sea salt might be viewed as a daily "food supplement" providing small amounts of a very wide range of minerals and trace elements. It is not a lot. But at least better than refined salt, which provides sodium chloride and nothing else.

Sea salt nutrition in the modern context

In the modern context, sea salt nutrition has become even more vital because modern agricultural practices have virtually stripped the land of many essential minerals and trace elements.

Today, unless one eats organic foods or foods grown in naturally rich soil such as in volcanic areas, a lot of vegetables and fruit contain very little minerals. Even meat and fish (especially farmed fish) do not contain as much minerals as they used to.

This makes it all the more important for us to get our daily supply of minerals and trace elements from natural sea salt, as well as from sea vegetables. Click here to read about how seaweeds complement sea salt nutrition.

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General discussions
Are you taking too much salt?
Benefits of sea salt
Nutrition of sea salt
Salt and high blood pressure
Sea salt vs table salt
Types of salt
Types of salt
Celtic salt and other unrefined sea salt
High potassium salts
Himalayan pink salt
Iodized salt
Kosher salt