Chloride is a salt consisting of two elements, one of which is chlorine. Chloride makes up about 0.15% of the body weight and is found in the fluid outside cells.
Chloride is needed to keep the proper balance of body fluids. It is an essential part of digestive (stomach) juices.
Chloride is can be found in table salt or sea salt as sodium chloride. It is also found in many vegetables. Foods with higher amounts of chloride include seaweed, rye, tomatoes, lettuce, celery, and olives. Potassium chloride is found in most foods and is usually the main ingredient of salt substitutes.
Too little chloride in the body can occur with fluid loss. This may be due to excessive sweating, vomiting, or diarrhea. Medicines such as diuretics can also cause a chloride deficiency. Such loss can lead to dehydration, loss of potassium in the urine, and a condition called alkalosis.
The best way to get the daily requirement of essential vitamins is to eat a balanced diet that contains a variety of foods from the food guide pyramid.
The Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine recommends the following dietary intake for chloride:
- 0 - 6 months: 0.18 grams per day (g/day)
- 7 - 12 months: 0.57 g/day
- 1 - 3 years: 1.5 g/day
- 4 - 8 years: 1.9 g/day
- 9 - 13 years: 2.3 g/day
Adolescents and Adults
- Males and females age 14 to 50 years: 2.3 g/day
- Males and females 51 – 70: 2.0 g/day
- Males and females 71 and over: 1.8 g/day
Specific recommendations depend on age, gender, and other factors (such as pregnancy). Women who are pregnant or producing breast milk (lactating) need higher amounts. Older adults need lower amounts. Ask your health care provider which amount is best for you.
Chloride is readily available in the food supply. In fact, most Americans probably consume more chloride than necessary, in the form of table salt and salt in prepared foods.
Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007.
Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate. National Academy Press, Washington, DC, 2004.
Review Date: 3/7/2009
Reviewed By: Linda Vorvick, MD, Family Physician, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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