Google+ Authentic Parenting: The Importance of Salt Intake during Pregnancy

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Importance of Salt Intake during Pregnancy

written by Mary Murphy

In the past, the medical community suggested that pregnant women limit their intake of salt during pregnancy. This was for three reasons, the first being that it was thought that too much salt would contribute to bloating and the second was that it may increase water retention. The third reasoning was that salt is also known to increase blood pressure. These are three issues that regularly manifest during pregnancy and so it was thought that salt would only exacerbate them.

The good news for pregnant women today is that this previous position has been retracted. It is especially good news for those women who get cravings for salty food. The medical community's reversal of their position on the importance of salt intake during pregnancy is mostly due to new medical evidence that suggests that a certain amount of salt may in fact be necessary for the health of the new-born child and mother.

A recent study examined the intake of salt during pregnancy. The researchers found that children born to mothers whose salt intake during pregnancy was either too low or too high often had poorly developed kidneys. Poorly developed kidneys in childhood can lead to heart problems in later life as well as difficulties with their kidneys. 

The findings showed how the children of mothers who had too little salt had lower than average glomeruli levels during their development up to twelve weeks. Glomeruli are the main parts of the kidneys, their role is to filter blood and create urine waste. Low levels in the crucial developmental stages can result in kidney and heart problems in later life. 

While it is important not to take in too much salt during pregnancy as this can also cause problems with new-born's hearts. Another study found that children born to mothers who had too high a salt intake during pregnancy developed larger hearts than normal and also had thickened areas in the heart. These abnormalities can cause heart problems for the children.

The World Health Organisation suggests that adults try to consume 5 grams of salt per day, which is about two full tea spoons. It can be difficult to monitor the exact amount of salt taken per day as many common foods also contain salt. Many convenience foods can contain chemical salt derivatives such as monosodium glutamate and processed salt. These poor quality salts are more damaging than natural salt and can be linked to heart disease and other health problems.

One of the many benefits of natural salt is its promotion of healthy fluid levels in the body. Taking in too little salt is dangerous for the child but it is also dangerous for the mother. By taking too little salt, the body will retain all its water and sodium because salt is necessary for the body to function healthily. When salt is severely limited, it leads to an increase in swelling. Taking the right amount of salt will help to maintain normal fluid levels and reduce swelling. Natural salts can also contain beneficial trace minerals and elements which make promote good health when added to diets.

While medical opinion in the past advocated taking less salt than normal during pregnancy, present opinion suggests that moderate salt intake is both beneficial and necessary for the health of both the mother and the child. Like in the story of the Three Bears, where one bowl of porridge was too hot and another was too cold while one was just right, too much salt or too little salt can have adverse effects on health. What is needed is just the right amount. According to the World Health Organisation, that amount is five grams per day.

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About the author: 
This article has been written by Mary Murphy, the communications manager for Irish based website - Ireland's largest online community website for mothers with over 100,000 members. The website publishes regular articles, tips and advice on pregnancy and articles about parenting. Feel free to visit the website and join our happy community

This post has been added to the Tuesday Baby Link Up


1 comment:

  1. So interesting. I usually find, pregnant or not, if I'm connected with my body and caring for it, I can trust my cravings. During both my pregnancies I had periodic salt cravings (usually for roasted, salted sunflower seeds), so it's good to know it was ok to indulge.

    Thanks so much for sharing with the Tuesday Baby Link Up community!


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