Did you know that chloride was one of the essential nutrients our bodies need to function at their best? This essential mineral can sometimes be an overlooked, as it can abundantly be found in our diet and rarely requires supplementation.
Role of Chloride in the Body
Chloride is considered one of the most essential electrolytes for our body, with many roles. This mineral is used for,
- Regulating the movement of compounds into and out of your cells
- Maintaining the fluid balance
Similar to other electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium and calcium, chloride plays an important role in muscle contraction and transmission of nerve signals throughout our bodies. This workhorse mineral also plays a role in digestion including the breakdown of foods and the activation of digestive enzymes.
How Much Do I Need?
Health Canada recommends healthy individuals over the age of 9 consume 2,200 to 2,300 milligrams each day. Recommended intakes vary depending on many factors including, sex, age and pregnancy and lactation.
You can find a list complete list of Health Canada’s recommendations for intakes for other populations by visiting their Dietary Reference Intakes page.
Am I At Risk of Deficiency?
Because of the abundance of chloride in our diet, most Canadian’s consume more than the recommended intake. This means we have a low risk of deficiency. However, some populations may have a higher risk of deficiency. These populations include,
- People with bulimia
- People with severe gastroenteritis
- Athletes or individuals experiencing heavy and prolonged sweating
Low levels of this mineral can cause a disruption in your body’s acid-base balance, which is tightly regulated to prevent tissue and organ damage and keep us functioning at our best.
Can I Have Too Much?
Just like potassium and sodium, the amount of chloride in your body is tightly regulated by your kidneys. This means that toxicity is rare, but this doesn’t mean that we can eat all the chloride we want without any consequences. Some populations may be at an increased risk of toxicity if they are unable to clear minerals from their bodies, such as individuals with kidney disease.
Where Can I Find Chloride?
Although most of the chloride we consume in our diet comes from sodium chloride (table salt), it is also found in many foods. All unprocessed foods, including meats and vegetables, contain small amounts of chloride.
Some of the best sources of this mineral include,
- Acorn squash
- Orange juice
- Processed meats
- Canned fish
It’s important to keep in mind that our diets include a large amount of salt. Unlike other micronutrients that are deficient in the typical Canadian diet, chloride and sodium are often found in excess of Health Canada’s recommendations. We can reduce the amount of chloride (and sodium) in our diet by looking for low-salt or no added salt alternatives.
We very rarely find chloride as individual supplements, but it is often found in multi-vitamin formulas. Additionally, small amounts of chloride can be found in tap water in Canada.
Interaction with Medications
There are some medications may impact your chloride status and increase your risk of deficiency. Some examples of these medications are diuretics and laxatives.
For more on the role of vitamins and minerals in promoting health and supporting your bodies, check out the Micronutrient Monday Series.
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