Sea salt is mostly composed of sodium chloride, a compound that helps regulate fluid balance and blood pressure in the body. Since it is minimally processed, it contains some minerals, including potassium, iron, and calcium. This is one reason why it is often considered nutritionally superior to table salt, which is heavily ground and has had most of its nutrients removed.
Still, most people do not realize this distinction and consider sea salt to be healthier than table salt, as excessive sodium consumption has been linked to high blood pressure levels and an increased risk of heart disease. However, if the amount of sodium you consume exceeds the recommended limit or your personal tolerance, using sea salt in place of regular salt makes no difference.
Benefits of Consuming Sea Salt
In general, salt can help you maintain adequate hydration and blood pressure levels. Since sodium plays a vital role in fluid balance, not getting enough of it can lead to dehydration, especially during high-intensity exercise.
Having proper fluid balance in the body is also important for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels. Therefore, consuming either too little or too much sodium can lead to changes in blood pressure in those who are sensitive to dietary salt.
Chloride is necessary to produce stomach acid, and sodium chloride (salt) facilitates the absorption and transportation of nutrients in the intestines after they have been broken down during digestion. Therefore, consuming enough salt promotes optimal digestive health.
The minimal processing of unrefined sea salt enables it to retain much of its natural mineral content. Sea salt contains many of the major electrolytes, like sodium, magnesium, calcium and potassium, that are essential to good health.
Electrolytes have so many important functions — from regulating your heartbeat to allowing your muscles to contract so that you can move. Sea salt in moderation can help in avoiding an electrolyte imbalance, which can cause all kinds of serious negative symptoms, including some that are potentially deadly.
As a good source of sodium, sea salt is essential for proper brain, muscle and nervous system function. Not only does sodium play a role in regulating your body’s fluid balance, but it is also required for the transmission of electrical signals in the body. Without the proper transmission of electrical signals in the body, so many things can get thrown off.
Without this communication system working as it should, the brain, muscles and nervous systems are especially inclined to suffer. Both too much and too little sodium cause cellular malfunction. So as much as you hear about making sure you do not get too much salt in your diet, it is also just as important to make sure you get enough.
Benefits of Using Sea Salt
Taking a sea salt bath is thought to decrease skin dryness and inflammation. In fact, the National Eczema Foundation recommends adding 1 cup of sea salt to bathwater to help relieve irritation from eczema, a condition marked by red, itchy skin.
Dead Sea salt baths also help in improving the skin barrier function and eliminating the roughness and inflammation on the skin’s surface.
Soaking your tired feet in a warm sea salt solution helps relax the muscles, and relieve the soreness and pain in your aching feet.
Sea salt contains fluoride, which is beneficial for promoting dental health. Fluoride aids in protecting the teeth from acidic damage and prevents the development of caries and cavities. Regular rinsing and gargling with tepid sea saltwater help alleviate mouth sores, bleeding gums, ulcers, and the pain of sore throats. While fluoride is now added to the water in many countries around the world, sea salt was particularly important in the early 20th century, when many some countries did not have access to it this way.
Dead Sea salts have been proven to be effective in providing therapeutic relief to patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. One study showed that participants in baths containing these salts demonstrated significant improvements in such ailments as compared to normal sodium chloride baths. These results are promising for an effective, natural method for providing relief in this population.
Sea salt finds another use in the cosmetic industry in the manufacturing of scrubs and other skin care products like antiperspirants and deodorants. Exfoliation with sea salts helps remove dead skin particles, tone up the skin tissues, encourage peripheral blood circulation, and promote skin renewal. Unlike table salt, the granular texture of sea salt works very well in providing clean and smooth skin.
Research studies have proven that the Dead Sea salt solution is also effective in providing relief from rhinosinusitis. The study also concluded that nasal irrigation and sprays done with sea salt showed better symptomatic relief as compared to those made of hypertonic saline solution. The anti-inflammatory effects of Dead Sea salts make them a natural and healthy alternative for relieving nasal allergies and other respiratory disorders; other remedies, such as nasal steroids have side effects like inflammation that can lead to mucus secretion. The mineral content present in Dead Sea salt may help alleviate swelling and congestion, as well.
Why Iodized Sea Salt?
Getting too little iodine — called iodine deficiency — is a serious issue. Iodine is an essential mineral used by the body to produce thyroid hormones. Too little iodine in a pregnant women’s diet can affect the development of the fetus’ brain and can cause cretinism, an irreversible form of physical and intellectual disability. Iodine deficiency during infancy can also result in abnormal brain development and impaired intellectual development.
Until nearly five years ago, Americans who got dairy, bread, and meat in their diets got plenty of iodine. Machines used in production were cleaned with an iodine disinfecting solution, so some iodine ended up in dairy, bread, meat products. That ended when companies quit using iodine disinfectant. Iodized salt is rarely found in canned, frozen, or boxed food. French fries and other snack foods mostly contain regular salt — not iodized salt. In fact, Americans now get one-third less iodine than they once did.
Both newborns and toddlers are affected by iodine deficiency. A recent study showed lower IQ scores among children with mild iodine deficiency — proof that the problem exists in developed countries.
The normal requirement for iodine, according to World Health Organization standards: Adults need 150 micrograms a day. Women trying to get pregnant should increase their intake to 200 to 300 micrograms a day.
Side Effects of Too Little Salt
Too little salt — iodized salt, that is — is dangerous, too. It is the iodine in iodized salt that helps the body make thyroid hormone, which is critical to an infant’s brain development. A little salt is essential to good health. Healthy adults should consume salt and water to replace the amount lost daily through sweat and to achieve a diet that provides enough other essential nutrients. The American Heart Association and NIH advise adults to get no more than 2,400 milligrams of sodium daily. That is about 1 teaspoon of salt.
Side Effects of Too Much Salt
Consuming too much salt of any kind, including sea salt, can result in excessive sodium intake, which has been linked to high blood pressure and other health issues. The typical American diet contains a large amount of high-sodium processed foods, and most people in the United States consume more than the recommended amount of sodium. Overconsumption of sodium is associated with high blood pressure, osteoporosis, kidney stones, and other health issues. Therefore, even if you prefer sea salt over other types of salt, it does not offer any specific benefits and should be used in moderation like all other salts. Furthermore, people with kidney disease, high blood pressure, and heart failure may need to be particularly careful about their intake of sea salt and other salts.