What is the Best Type of Natural Salt?

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What are the best natural salts
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Salt is often a hotly debated topic in the natural health community. It was literally once worth its weight in gold, and now added dietary salt has come under scrutiny in the health and medical communities.

The problem with the advice to avoid salt is that studies about salt intake almost all use basic chemical table salt (NaCl). Research definitely supports avoiding a concentrated chemical source of salt like table salt, but when it comes to natural forms of salt, the research is not so clear cut.

The Amount Matters

There seems to be a golden ratio for salt consumption based on the research, and it is actually higher than the current RDA and the current US average consumption. In fact, the Japanese (and several other cultures) consume much more salt than Americans and have lower rates of the problems often blamed on salt intake (high blood pressure, heart disease, etc).

As Chris Kresser details:

According to research, there exists a range of sodium intake that likely confers the best health outcomes for most people. As I explained in part 3, findings from a 2011 study demonstrate the lowest risk of death for sodium excretion between 4000 and 5990 milligrams per day. (1) Sodium excretion greater than 7000 milligrams or less than 3000 milligrams per day was associated with a higher risk of stroke, heart attack and death. This lowest risk range equates to approximately two to three teaspoons of salt per day.

It is important to note that this golden amount of 2-3 teaspoons includes added and naturally occurring salts in foods like seafood. For most people eating an unprocessed diet, this amount is usually achieved naturally by eating a real food diet high in green vegetables and salting food to taste.

It is also important to note that consuming too little salt carries its own share of problems:

While salt-induced hypertension is typically blamed as a cause of heart disease, a low salt intake is associated with higher mortality from cardiovascular events. A 2011 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association demonstrates a low-salt zone where stroke, heart attack and death are more likely. Compared with moderate sodium excretion, there was an association between low sodium excretion and cardiovascular (CVD) death and hospitalization for coronary heart failure. These findings demonstrate the lowest risk of death for sodium excretion between 4 and 5.99 grams per day.

Another 2011 study confirmed this observation; not only was lower sodium excretion associated with higher CVD mortality, but baseline sodium excretion did not predict the incidence of hypertension, and any associations between systolic pressure and sodium excretion did not translate into less morbidity or improved survival. (source)

The majority of modern day salt intake (in the US) comes from processed foods. It is impossible to separate this salt consumption (which is the processed chemical form anyway) from the other chemicals, vegetable oils, and sugars found in processed food.

The Type of Salt Matters!

The fact that obesity and heart disease rates have risen over the last five decades while salt intake has remained the same suggests that if salt intake does affect cardiovascular and overall health, it doesn’t affect it in the way we thought. Real natural salt is a source of many minerals as well as just sodium and chloride, and there is a biological need for these minerals in specific ratios.

So is there a biological need for salt, and can it be fulfilled with a no-salt added diet? From Kresser again:

Not surprisingly, the move from a hunting-and-gathering diet to one consisting largely of grains and vegetables necessitated the procurement of supplemental dietary salt. Humans, like many carnivores, can meet their salt needs by eating meat and seafood, provided they do not sweat excessively. For example, the Masai, nomadic cattle herders in East Africa, can easily obtain adequate dietary salt by drinking the blood of their livestock. In modern and historic hunter-gatherer societies, it has generally been found that hunting tribes do not make or trade salt, unlike agricultural tribes, and once humans began cultivating crops, their dietary need for salt increased.

So perhaps modern diet precipitates our need for additional dietary salt. That being said, not all salts are created equal and I think it is vitally important to do your own research on salt and to consume it in proper ratios with other minerals and vitamins.

Many modern low-salt or “healthy salt” products are using potassium chloride in place of sodium chloride, which seems to be much more dangerous long-term (but which is a topic for its own post).

Best Kind of Natural Salt?

It is important to note the difference between naturally occurring salts and isolated NaCl (table salt- sometimes with iodine added). In general, what we just call “salt” can be one of three types: Table salt, Sea Salt or Rock Salt.

Table Salt

Table Salt is the salt you find on restaurant tables and on processed food. It is an industrial product made in factories and heated to over 1000 degrees. Often, aluminum hydroxide (an anti-caking agent) and other chemicals are added, along with iodine (which has its own cautions and which should be consumed in natural sources in ratio with selenium).

This is the salt often used in studies about sodium consumption. Large amounts of these elements in isolation, especially with added iodine, which can potentially lead to thyroid problems, may be causing more harm than good. In fact some research is exploring the possibility that sodium chloride in isolated form could be one of the factors in the increase in autoimmune disease in recent decades. (source)

This type of salt is also devoid of the natural minerals found in naturally derived salt.

Especially with Hashimotos, I avoid table salt completely.

Sea Salt

As the name suggests, sea salt is salt mined from the sea. It is higher in minerals than table salt, and considered a more natural form. There are many variations of Sea Salt and the quality varies greatly. I’ve used Celtic Sea Salt and Real Salt. Both have a wide range of trace minerals.

The only cautions with Sea Salt are to not consume dead sea salt (too much bromide) and to make sure all sea salt comes from an un-contaminated source.

Himalayan Salts

Himalayan salt is a type of rock salt mined from ancient salt beds in the Himalayan mountains. Since these salt beds are ancient an dried, they don’t have the contamination risk of modern sea salts and contain dozens of other trace minerals. From here:

Himalayan Pink Salt has a rich mineral content that includes over 84 minerals and trace elements such as: calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper and iron. This salt is recognized for its beautiful pink color, high mineral content, and its therapeutic properties. Regular consumption of Himalayan Pink Salt provides essential minerals, trace elements, balances electrolytes, supports proper nutrient absorption, eliminates toxins, balances the body’s pH, normalizes blood pressure, and increases circulation and conductivity. It can also assist with relief from arthritis, skin rashes, psoriasis, herpes, and flu and fever symptoms.

This is the type of salt our family uses most often and I buy it in bulk. I consider this the gold standard of salt and consume it regularly.

The Bottom Line

Biological need for salt varies by individual depending on age, activity level and health conditions. Always do your own research and check with a medical professional, especially if you have any medical conditions.

Natural salt doesn’t deserve the bad reputation that table salt has earned it, but it does need to be consumed in ratio with other minerals like magnesium and selenium and as part of a varied, nutrient-rich, real-food diet.

External Uses for Salt

Ever notice how awesome your skin feels at the beach? The natural minerals in salt can be great for skin. Here are some ways I use salt externally:

Additional Reading about Salt:

Kresser: Shaking Up the Salt Myth and The Dangers of Salt Restriction and Healthy Salt Recommendations
Book: Salt: A World History
Wellness Mama: Are You Scared of Salt?

How do you use salt? How much do you consume? Join the conversation below!

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


59 responses to “What is the Best Type of Natural Salt?”

  1. Pam Avatar

    Hi Katie! In your article you mentioned,“The only cautions with Sea Salt are to not consume dead sea salt (too much bromide).” I most often purchase Real Salt. How does one know if they’re consuming “dead” sea salt? I hope Real Salt doesn’t fall under that category? Also, after using a sauna, is salt a good way to replenish electrolytes/minerals without buying a supplement? Sorry for two questions in one post. But, thank you so much for your help and expertise.

    1. Jamie Larrison Avatar

      Dead sea salt comes from the Dead Sea and would be labelled as “Dead Sea Salt.” Real salt is mined from an ancient seabed in Utah, not from the Dead Sea in the Middle East. Salt does help replenish sodium and some minerals, but an electrolyte drink is an even better way to replenish minerals. Here’s Katie’s mineral drink recipe! https://wellnessmama.com/remedies/mineral-drink/

  2. Wish Avatar

    Hi Katie!
    What truth is there to a bowl of salt in a room doing anything good??

  3. Becky Avatar

    I didn’t notice brand recommendations which is what I was hoping for. Do your have brand recommendations for each type of salt? All brands are not created equal as we know! Thanks!

  4. Leigh Avatar

    Hi Katie,

    What salt did you eat though most of your pregnancies? Do you use the Himalayan salt for both cooking and salting to tase? Not sure if this is still a thread that can be responded to. Thank you!!

  5. melissa Avatar


    I noticed that you recommend the pink himalayan salt, but the link to the one you purchase for your family is a different sea salt. I wanted to buy the correct one (admittedly taking a short cut and just piggy-backing on your research) but then was confused! Can you clarify?

  6. Kelly Avatar

    Ok but real salt has REALLY high levels of fluoride in it thatsnot good and high iodine as well. And there’s a lot of stuff out there saying that Himalayan is radioactive. So I don’t know anymore what to use!!

    1. Laura Avatar

      Kelly, I have read this as well, that the heavy metals (lead, etc) and such are dangerous, and the radioactivity…..but then again I have also read such glowing health benefits from using unrefined salts! It is really hard to know how to make the “right” choice. I’ve been trying to figure out this dang salt thing for months! 🙂

  7. Liz Avatar

    It might be pretty and good for you but I have read a lot about bad practice around the mining methods used and the exploitation of the miners – some children – for the so-called Himalayan salt – from Pakistan. Please check with the company you buy from as to their sources as different companies mine rhe area.

  8. Malik Avatar

    Himalayan salt is best product for your relaxing body. Thanks for such a great info!

  9. Callie Avatar

    Hi!! I purchased some of the pink salt from mountain rose that you linked. It’s pretty course. Do you put it in a grinder of some sort? Or just use as is? If you use some sort of grinder etc can you tell me what kind? This may be silly and if so, sorry lol!! Thank you!

  10. Aron Avatar

    “Himalayan Salt” comes from Pakistan. It is yet ANOTHER scam dumped upon Americans. It is apparently VERY HIGH in fluoride and not good.

  11. Alison Avatar

    How often do you recommend salt baths for a 2yo? I also do Magnesium lotion on her feet at night. Thanks!

    1. Lynnie Avatar

      Iodine – added to table salt, which is bad for you
      So use iodine supplement instead, or eat iodine-rich food

  12. Shirley Avatar

    In the article above, the link to Real Salt and the link to Himalayan Salt both go to the same product (Real Salt) on Amazon. Is there another link for the Himalayan Salt?

  13. Kristina Avatar

    Hej Wellness Mama,

    Yet another mama is writing here 🙂

    I wonder where did you find that Himalayan salt comes from Himalayas? As far as I am aware the salt was connected to Himalayas, for marketing purposes only – it is a story that usually sells.

    All I am able to find is that Himalayan salt is ” It is mined in the Khewra Salt Mine, located in Khewra, Jhelum District, Punjab region, Pakistan. The foothills of the Salt Range are located 300 km from the Himalayas, 298 km from Amritsar, India and 260 km from Lahore. The salt sometimes occurs in a reddish or pink color, with some crystals having an off-white to transparent color.[1]” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Himalayan_salt]
    I have to admit I never use Wikipedia as a source, but this time it explains the topic best.

    I spent appr an hour googling Himalaya salt and not even one place I found that the salt comes from Himalaya mountains.

    Best, Kristina

  14. Gary Clarke Avatar
    Gary Clarke

    ALL sea salts and rock salts are 100% sodium chloride, which is not good.

    The body needs potassium and magnesium.

    The best option for salt at the moment (in the UK) is LoSalt, which is 66% Potassium Chloride, it also contains Magnesium Carbonate.

    The most easily digestible form of Magnesium is Magnesium Citrate, which you can buy powder/pills/capsules of online.

    The best natural source of Magnesium is pumpkin seeds.

  15. Kelly Avatar

    no one has brought up the fact that most of these sea salts, himalayan salts and gourmet salts do not contain iodide. iodide is crucial for apoptosis, which is natural cell death. we need cell death. when cells divide, the old ones need to die. without this natural cell death, the old cells keep dividing and multiplying. this is where CANCERS start. i use hain kosher sea salt with iodide added. now that so many of us are using these fancy salts, we are missing crucial iodide. i dont want cancer, how about you?

  16. Kara Avatar

    I switched from typical table salt about 2 years ago, once I realized what typical morton salt actually was. I have found that regular unrefined sea salt actually tastes so much better! Some people refer to it as gourmet sea salt or chef salts, but I do believe it should be in every kitchen and restaurant. Maybe if restaurants changed their salts set at the table it would help inform those who have yet to find out there is a difference in salts. Thank you for this well written, informative post about salt! I buy all of my unrefined sea salts online from Salts Worldwide They have varieties of sea salts available from places across the world! I enjoy the Fleur de Sel Sea Salt – simply amazingly pure unrefined salt from the earth!

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