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Why Do I Crave Salt?

Actually, there’s a very good reason for it. Table salt, or sodium chloride, is essential for proper metabolism.

One of the ways that salt is important is that it helps to manage the amount of fluid present in our bodies. It may seem odd, but salt is responsible for the proper firing of electrical impulses in us. This electrical activity helps fluids move into and out of cells to help maintain the right balance of liquid in our bodies. This electrical activity uses the positive ions in sodium and the negative ions in chloride to help maintain this rather fragile arrangement.

Your kidneys play a large part in how much salt is present in your blood. When you are wondering, “why do I crave salt?” your body is probably low on what is needed to help get fluids into the bloodstream.

Salt provides the electrolytes, the positive and negative ions that allow the absorption of the liquids that you drink. When you become dehydrated, it can actually be impossible to rehydrate if you only drink water. Water does not contain electrolytes, which means it will simply pass through your digestive system without actually being used

A Personal Salt Craving Story

My mother was evidently a person who needed little salt in her diet, but she extended this to her three children, although my brother, sister, and I evidently had a need for more salt.

In order to satisfy my salt craving, I would go into the refrigerator and bite off sections of the salted butter. I later found out that my brother and sister were doing the same thing in order to try to get enough salt.

I wonder now if some of the illnesses we experienced as young children didn’t stem from dehydration from lack of salt.

Craving Salt for Bodily Functioning

Salt has a great influence over the volume of blood in your system, and the kidneys help to regulate this.  Salt attracts water, and you can try this for yourself by spilling a bit of salt on the kitchen table, and checking on it the next day. You won’t see any salt crystals; all you’ll see are little puddles of water where the salt has pulled moisture out of the air. Salt helps to pull moisture out of what you have eaten to put it into your blood for use by cells and tissues.

One of the reasons why you will experience salt craving is when you become dehydrated in any way.

This can easily occur during the summer, especially, when you’re working or engaging in sports outside and you sweat heavily. Intensive exercise workouts can also cause dehydration through sweating, and you will be drawn to salty foods or drinks precisely to help restore your electrolyte balance. Certain medical conditions will also render people more susceptible to dehydration, and those who have had  abdominal surgery for diseases such as colitis will have a much greater need for salt.

It is also easy to become dehydrated when you become sick and experience vomiting and/or diarrhea. In this case you will definitely have a salt craving as your body tries to restore the proper amount of fluids. This is probably one reason why chicken soup is often looked upon as being good to eat when you’re sick – it will supply a healthy dose of salt.

Remember, too, that water alone may not be sufficient to rehydrate you when you’re ill, you will need to drink energy drinks or tea, water will probably not be absorbed.

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-BS Pharm, PharmD, RPh

Dr. Paul Zickler is a graduate of the University of Wester Ontario in 1972. After graduating from the faculty of medicine, Dr. Zickler practiced as an Emergency Physician for 18 years. He has then operated ambulatory medical and travel clinics for 12 years. Dr. Zickler has become an Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of British Columbia, a Director of Professional Programs for the Justice Institute of British Columbia (paramedic academy), a principal investigator for Phase 2 and 3 studies researching vaccines, and a founding member of the Canadian International Pharmacy Association. Dr. Zickler is passionate about combining western prescription medicine and natural medicines.

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