Chloride vs. Chlorine
Chlorine is a naturally occurring highly reactive gas that is usually present in industrial settings. Chlorine is most commonly used in disinfectants, bleach and mustard gas. It is also used in water purification processes.
Exposure to large amounts of chlorine gas irritates the skin and eyes as well as affects the respiratory system. It can even lead to water retention in lungs. Nevertheless, the levels of chlorine normally present in the environment are not high enough to cause any adverse effects.
What are Chlorides and How are They Different?
When a chlorine atom picks up one electron (one negative charge) it forms a negative ion Cl- which is also known as chloride ion. These ions usually bond with other metals to form chlorine salts – chlorides.
Chloride can be found in table or sea salt as a sodium chloride salt. Many vegetables, rye, seaweed, olives are good natural sources of chloride. Most prepared and processed foods also have high levels of chloride.
Health Effects of Chloride
Chloride is found in many chemicals and body fluids. It is an essential electrolyte meaning that its free ions work to make our bodily fluids electrically conductive.
This is especially important as it allows the carrying of nerve impulses from any point in the body to the brain or anywhere else necessary.
Chloride ions play an important role in maintaining body’s acid-base balance and regulate fluid movement to and from cells. It is also needed to support the metabolism.
Chloride amount in the blood is controlled by the kidneys.
Deficiency and Excess Intake
Chloride deficiency in the body can be caused by intensive loss of fluids. It usually results from excessive vomiting, diarrhea or sweating. Moreover, these issues are mostly caused by some other illnesses or conditions like food poisoning or salmonella. This is usually corrected by reintroducing physiological fluids in the body using IV drip.
However, most people consume too much chloride rather then not enough. It is very easily done due to the high concentration of salt in all of the processed and prepared foods that are so popular these days.
Too high chloride intake from salt usually results in increased blood pressure and fluid build-up, in the long term possibly leading to kidney disease or even heart failure.
Recommendations for Intake
Best way to reach your daily need for chloride intake is to eat a balanced diet which has lots of fruits and vegetables in it. It is also worth trying to avoid ready-made and highly processed foods to keep your salt intake down.
Recommended Adequate Intake levels of chloride are:
- Adults – 2.3 g per day
- Children – 1.5-2.3 g per day increasing with age
- Infants – 0.18-0.57 g per day depending on age