Is Disodium Phosphate Bad for You?
Disodium phosphates are used in many products including food packaging, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and other consumer goods. They have been widely accepted since they do not contain any animal ingredients or artificial colors. However, there is concern over their use because of concerns about their safety and potential health risks such as kidney damage. There are several studies which show that they may cause kidney problems when consumed regularly (1). The World Health Organization recommends that all adults consume no more than 2 grams per day of sodium phosphate (2). Some experts say that it’s better to avoid them altogether, while others recommend consuming less than 1 gram daily.
The problem with these recommendations is that most Americans don’t get enough sodium from foods and drinks, so even if they did eat less of them, they would still need extra amounts of the disodium phosphates to compensate for what they’re missing out on.
It’s not just the U.S., but other countries too like Canada and Australia have similar guidelines.
So why aren’t these guidelines being followed? Why isn’t the public aware of how much sodium they’re actually getting from various sources? And why does it seem like there is a conspiracy against us?
There are two main reasons:
First, the FDA doesn’t want to regulate something that makes its money off of regulation. In other words, if you don’t have guidelines set in place, then the FDA can regulate however much it wants to. If there were real guidelines for how much of something is too much, then the FDA would be taken to court over the fact that they aren’t doing their jobs.
Second, most of the companies producing food that contain disodium phosphate don’t want to add less of it to their products. If they’re producing a food product that contains it in large quantities, then they have to put a warning label on the front of the package, which makes consumers think twice about buying it. They would either have to reformulate their food without disodium phosphate or get rid of their product altogether. This would cost companies millions, if not billions of dollars.
So what can you do?
As I mentioned before, know how much sodium you should eat and try to stay within those guidelines. Remember that just because something is low in fat, sugar or gluten doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for you. There are many so-called “healthy” foods that actually contain a lot of sodium. For example, most canned chicken noodle and beef noodles soups have more than 2000 mg of sodium in just one serving!
So what do you do when you have a craving for one of these foods?
Making your own soups at home is probably the best way to go, but if you don’t have time or don’t want to bother with it then try other options like low-sodium or no-salt-added canned soups. Be sure to check the serving size though because they can sometimes contain a lot more sodium than you would think.
Another option is to start making your own “instant” soups using bouillon cubes or powder. I know this may sound a little strange since bouillon isn’t something you usually eat, but it actually tastes a lot better than you think and it’s very convenient. Just add hot water and in minutes you have a nice bowl of soup. You can buy bouillon in several different forms: granules, cubes, and powder. The granules and powder are usually less processed and have less sodium than the cubes, which are mostly salt!
A final alternative is to use a bouillon “paste” that you add water to. These pastes don’t contain any salt, but instead are made from soy or other plant proteins. They tend to be the most expensive though.
The next time you’re at the grocery store, look for the foods labeled “low sodium” and compare the Nutrition Facts panels. You may be surprised to learn that some of these “low-sodium” alternatives actually contain more sodium than their regular, higher-sodium counterparts!
So how much sodium do you really need?
The current U.S. Government guidelines suggest that adults should consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium a day. This is about one teaspoon of salt. Some experts think this number is still too high and recommend lowering it to 1,500 mg or less per day.
What can happen if you regularly eat too much sodium?
You may retain water and feel puffy (sometimes called “water weight” by some), but that’s not all. Excessive sodium can increase your blood pressure, and high blood pressure can lead to a heart attack or stroke. It can also increase the risk of getting certain types of cancer, especially cancers related to the colon, rectum, and stomach.
A healthy diet along with moderate exercise will help you feel your best. Your body will thank you for it!
If you have any questions about this topic, or anything else relating to your health, please feel free to call the Health Connection at (509) 459-0900. We’re here to help!
Until next time!
YES! I’m Ready to Make a Change!
The Health Connection is funded by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Health Resources Division.
Sources & references used in this article:
New Phosphate Coatings with Unusual Corrosion Resistance by G Jernstedt – Transactions of the Electrochemical Society, 1943 – iopscience.iop.org
Intraocular penetration and systemic absorption after topical application of dexamethasone disodium phosphate by O Weijtens, RC Schoemaker, FP Romijn, AF Cohen… – Ophthalmology, 2002 – Elsevier
Determination of betamethasone disodium phosphate in the in vitro media of PLGA microspheres by high-performance liquid chromatography by L Wang, YY Yang, TS Chung, XQ Chen – Journal of pharmaceutical and …, 2002 – Elsevier
What else is in our children’s medicine? by C Cordner, NA Caldwell, P Elliot – Archives of Disease in Childhood, 2012 – adc.bmj.com
Action of disodium cromoglycate. by M Silverman – British medical journal, 1972 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov