Chloride Requirements and Dietary Sources

Himalayan Pink Salt

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Chloride is a major mineral that works with sodium and potassium to keep body fluid levels balanced. It works by maintaining the fluid volume outside of the cells. The cells in the lining of the stomach need chloride to make hydrochloric acid, which is a component of digestive juices. 

It's easy to find chloride in foods, so deficiency is rare. Table salt and sea salt are both 40% chloride by volume, so you'll consume chloride every time you add salt to your food or eat foods made with salt. Salt substitutes often use chloride too—it's just the sodium that's replaced in those products. That's because sodium has been linked to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases in some people.

In addition to salt, many vegetables, such as celery, tomatoes, lettuce, and seaweeds, are good sources of chloride. There's no reason to take chloride as a dietary supplement, since the foods you eat are more than sufficient.

Dietary Reference Intakes

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Health and Medicine Division determines the adequate intake of all nutrients based on age and sex. Chloride needs are similar for males and females but differ by age. The recommendation doesn't change for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. 

1 to 3 years: 1.5 grams per day
4 to 8 years: 1.9 grams per day
9 to 50 years: 2.3 grams per day
51 to 70 years: 2.0 grams per day
71+ years: 1.8 grams per day

These adequate intakes are equal to the amount that should cover the needs of all individuals in each age group. If you have any health conditions, you can speak to your healthcare provider about your diet and if there's any reason to be concerned about your chloride intake.

Chloride deficiency can occur when your body loses too much fluid through heavy sweating, vomiting, or diarrhea. Certain medications called diuretics cause your body to lose fluid, so they can potentially cause a chloride deficiency as well.

Consuming too much chloride can increase your blood pressure. People with congestive heart disease need to be even more careful because it can cause a build-up of fluid. According to the Institute of Medicine, the tolerable upper intake for chloride is 3.6 grams per day for adults. The tolerable upper limit is the maximum level of daily intake that's known not to cause any adverse effects. 

Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  • American Heart Association. Sodium. Updated June 28, 2018. 

  • National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Health and Medicine Division. Dietary reference intakes.

  • U.S. National Library of Medicine. Chloride in diet. Updated February 2, 2019. 

By Shereen Lehman, MS
Shereen Lehman, MS, is a former writer for Verywell Fit and Reuters Health. She's a healthcare journalist who writes about healthy eating and offers evidence-based advice for regular people.