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Water softeners: How much sodium do they add?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sodium/AN00317
- With Mayo Clinic emeritus hypertension specialist
Sheldon G. Sheps, M.D.read biographyclose window
Sheldon G. Sheps, M.D.Sheldon Sheps, M.D.
Dr. Sheldon Sheps, emeritus professor of medicine and former chair of the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension in the Department of Medicine at Mayo Clinic, has been with Mayo Clinic since 1960.
Dr. Sheps, a Winnipeg, Manitoba, native, is board certified in internal medicine and specializes in hypertension and peripheral vascular diseases. He developed a multidisciplinary approach with specially trained nurses, dietitians, technicians and educators to help form a team approach to the treatment of patients with abnormal blood pressure.
"I have always believed in involving the patient and family in their health care," Dr. Sheps says. "I have asked for their understanding of the illness and issues and for participation in decisions. The Web is a natural extension of that, and now many more people can be informed."
Dr. Sheps chaired the sixth working group, and he participated in the fourth, fifth and seventh groups that developed the then-latest guidelines for hypertension under the auspices of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). He helped write the latest American Heart Association (AHA) report on blood pressure measurement. He chaired an AHA group that produced an online accreditation for blood pressure measurement for health professionals.
Dr. Sheps has co-authored books, newsletters, CD-ROMs and other Mayo Clinic health information material. He joined Mayo Clinic's Web team in 1998. He was medical editor-in-chief of both editions of the "Mayo Clinic on High Blood Pressure" book; the last edition was published in 2003. He was also medical editor-in-chief of "Mayo Clinic 5 Steps to Controlling High Blood Pressure," published in 2008.
In addition, Dr. Sheps was section editor for each of the first three editions of "Hypertension Primer" for the American Heart Association.
Dr. Sheps was also chairman of the Science Base Subcommittee and the National High Blood Pressure Education Program, and he was a consultant to the Hypertension Initiative of the World Health Organization. In 1997, he was honored with the Individual Achievement Award on the 25th anniversary of the National High Blood Pressure Education Program of NHLBI. In 2009, he was honored as a Distinguished Mayo Alumnus.
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Water softeners: How much sodium do they add?
I'm trying to lower my sodium intake. How much sodium does a water softener add to tap water?
from Sheldon G. Sheps, M.D.
Regular tap water contains very little sodium. The amount of sodium a water softener adds to tap water depends on the "hardness" of the water. Hard water contains large amounts of calcium and magnesium. Some water-softening systems replace calcium and magnesium ions with sodium ions. The higher the concentration of calcium and magnesium, the more sodium needed to soften the water. Even so, the added sodium doesn't add up to much.
An 8-ounce (237-milliliter) glass of softened water generally contains less than 12.5 milligrams of sodium, which is well within the Food and Drug Administration's definition of "very low sodium." Thus, it's unlikely that sodium in softened water would pose a risk for most healthy people.
However, if you're on a very low-sodium diet and you're concerned about the amount of sodium in softened water, you may want to consider a water-purification system that uses potassium chloride instead. Another option is to soften only the hot water and use unsoftened cold water for drinking and cooking.
In any case, it's important to keep in mind that the majority of sodium in an average person's diet comes from table salt and processed foods. Thus, the best way to decrease sodium in your diet is by putting away the saltshaker and cutting back on processed foods.Next question
Diet soda: Is it bad for you?
- Sodium in drinking water. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. http://water.epa.gov/scitech/drinkingwater/dws/ccl/sodium.cfm. Accessed Jan. 8, 2013.
- Yarows SA, et al. Sodium concentration of water from softeners. Archives of Internal Medicine. 1997;157:218.
- Food labeling guide: Definitions of nutrient content claims. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/GuidanceDocuments/FoodLabelingNutrition/FoodLabelingGuide/ucm064911.htm. Accessed Jan. 9, 2013.
- What you need to know about water softeners. Consumer Reports. http://news.consumerreports.org/appliances/2012/01/what-you-need-to-know-about-water-softeners.html. Accessed Jan. 9, 2013.
- Sheps SG (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 10, 2013.