Chloride is found in many chemicals and other substances in the body. It is one of the components of salt used in cooking and in some foods.
Chloride is needed to keep the proper balance of body fluids. It is an essential part of digestive (stomach) juices.
Chloride is 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.
Chloride, combined with potassium, is also found in many foods. It is most often the main ingredient in salt substitutes.
Most Americans probably get more chloride than they need from table salt and the salt in prepared foods.
Too little chloride in the body can occur when your body loses a lot of fluids. This may be due to heavy sweating, vomiting, or diarrhea. Medicines such as diuretics can also cause low chloride levels.
Too much chloride from salted foods can:
Recommendations for chloride, as well as other nutrients, are provided in the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) developed by the Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine. DRI is a term for a set of reference intakes that are used to plan and assess the nutrient intakes of healthy people. These values, which vary by age and gender, include:
- Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): The average daily level of intake that is enough to meet the nutrient needs of nearly all (97 to 98%) healthy people. An RDA is an intake level based on scientific research evidence.
- Adequate Intake (AI): This level is established when there is not enough scientific research evidence to develop an RDA. It is set at a level that is thought to ensure enough nutrition.
- 0 to 6 months old: 0.18 grams per day (g/day)
- 7 to 12 months old: 0.57 g/day
- 1 to 3 years: 1.5 g/day
- 4 to 8 years: 1.9 g/day
- 9 to 13 years: 2.3 g/day
Adolescents and Adults (AI)
- Males and females, age 14 to 50: 2.3 g/day
- Males and females, age 51 to 70: 2.0 g/day
- Males and females, age 71 and over: 1.8 g/day
- Pregnant and lactating females of all ages: 2.3 g/day
Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate. National Academy Press, Washington, DC: 2005. PMID: 101209392 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/nlmcatalog/101209392
Mason JB. Vitamins, trace minerals, and other micronutrients. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 225.
Salwen MJ. Vitamins and trace elements. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 26.
Update Date 2/2/2015
Updated by: Emily Wax, RD, The Brooklyn Hospital Center, Brooklyn, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.