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Kidney Diseases

Best Sodium Intake for Lithium Patients



I am lithium user with chronic kidney disease (about 25% capacity). Since I am told lithium users should not have too low a sodium intake, what is minimum recommended sodium intake? Daily lithium is 900 mg, I am female weighing 153 pounds. Thank you.


The actual amount of sodium in the diet is probably not as important as keeping the amount constant from day to day.  If sodium intake is constant, the dose of lithium can be adjusted to give the desired blood levels. 

Typical sodium intake is about 5-6 grams of sodium per day.   A so-called "no-added-salt" diet contains about 4 grams per day and is considered to be a good healthy amount of sodium intake in a diet that is not too hard to follow: it involves avoiding very salty foods and not adding salt at the table. 

Trying to achieve a daily intake less than 4 grams per day may be difficult to do reliably from day to day.  This could cause dangerous fluctuations in lithium levels. 

However, in this day and age, many physicians are avoiding the use of lithium and are switching patients from lithium to other drugs that have the same mental effects but are much safer to take over a long period of time.  You may want to ask your doctor about the possibility of switching medications, especially since you already have considerable kidney damage.

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Response by:

Mildred   Lam, MD Mildred Lam, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University