A: Thank you for the question.
There is no age recommendation to start salt intake. Salt, in the form of sodium, chloride and potassium is vital in the normal functioning of the body. Breast milk also contains salt in the form of these electrolytes to maintain normal functioning of the body.
However excess salt can cause serious problems to the body. The immature kidney cannot process excess salt to be eliminated into the urine. It will remain in the blood stream causing imbalance of the body function that can later cause the child to be unwell, having high blood pressure or seizures.
The recommended daily intake of salt differs according to age. Since the kidney is immature in the infancy period and gets gradually mature over time, the amount of salt recommended increases with age. This is the recommendation:
Less than 1 year: 1g/day
1 – 3 years: 2g/day
4 – 6 years: 3g/day
7 – 10 years: 5g/day
11 years above: 6g/day
Infants below 1 year old should not have excess salt in their diet since breast milk and formula milk already has the adequate amount of salt in them. It is therefore recommended not to use chicken stock or other flavouring or additives that may contain excess salt in them into the baby’s food.
With regards to sugar, it is also important for the normal function of the body. Sugar is a type of carbohydrate that provides energy to the body. There are many types of sugar but are generally classified as simple or complex sugars. Simple sugars such as glucose, fructose and galactose are the ones that are absorb in the body to provide energy. Excess of these sugars are converted to glycogen and stored in the liver. However when there is too much of sugars, the body cannot cope to store it and will start to eliminate it through the kidneys. The body tissue will become resistant to this high sugar state and will no more absorb and utilize it. Later these excesses are converted to fat.
( answered by Dr Aznor Fadly )
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