Himalayan pink salt has gained a lot of popularity as well as skepticism in the past few years due to the fact that it is unrefined and has more than 80 trace minerals. While some of these claims are true, a large percentage of them are false.
This article was written in an attempt to scientifically clarify Himalayan Pink Salt side effects, myths, benefits and more!
Himalayan Pink Salt Side Effects
When one gets down to it, all edible salts – no matter what the color – are largely comprised of sodium chloride and originated from the sea.
Salt mines are the result of seas that dried up millions of years ago, leaving behind a deposit of sodium chloride and other minute amounts of minerals. This does not exclude the Salt Range or Khewra Mines where Himalayan Pink Salt is mined, 5000ft below the Himalayan Mountains.
Pink Salt is made up of 97.41% sodium chloride, with 2.59% of it comprising of the 84 minerals that everyone is raving about 1.
The mineral content of each one is so small that they do not contribute to Himalayan pink salt side effects at all. For instance, 0.00389% or 38.9 parts per million of this salt is made of iron oxide, which is known to give the pink color.
In terms of “impurities,” the Pakistan government evaluates all of its salt scrupulously to ensure there are none. They harvest pink salt alongside 5 other types of salt with differing colors. Pink salt was shown to be the purest of all these salts2, only containing minute amount of beneficial minerals as “impurities.”
Therefore, Himalayan pink sea salt side effects apply to all salts in general, even ordinary table salt. We all need salt on a daily basis to be alive and well, but overdosing on salt can have severe consequences.
#1 Risk of Consuming Too Much Sodium
When one consumes an excessive amount of sodium, especially in the form of sodium chloride, it has many adverse side effects. The biggest concerns revolve around electrolyte imbalance, which are the ions present in our bodily fluids that keep us hydrated and ensure proper bodily functions like nerve impulses and our heart beat.
When we consume too much sodium, it causes our levels of potassium to decrease and vice versa. Many people are deficient in potassium due to consuming too much sodium, whether as Himalayan Pink Sea Salt, ordinary Sea Salt or iodized Table Salt. This can create dehydration, cramps, and high blood pressure.
Other side effects of excessive sodium consumption include: 5
- Asthma during exercise
- Contributing to Osteoarthritis and other bone diseases
- Decreased Bone Mineral Density (due to potassium deficiency)
- Edema or fluid retention
- Gastric lesions and ulcers
- Heart problems
- High blood pressure
- Kidney problems
- Stomach cancer
Salt can be fatal if taken in a large enough dose, however it would be extremely difficult to achieve and it is far more likely to invoke a “slow death” over a longer period of time from overdoing it. For instance, those who regularly consume too much salt are at a higher risk of heart attacks and other fatal occurrences than those who don’t.
In the most extreme cases of excessive sodium consumption, it can cause hypernatremia (high levels of sodium), as well as hypokalemia6:(life threateningly low levels of potassium). Symptoms of the latter include nausea, constipation, muscle spasms, weakness, abnormal heart rhythms, fatigue, and in the worst cases, muscle breakdown and paralysis.
#2 Risk of Consuming Too Much Chloride
Consuming too much salt also usually means consuming too much chloride, also known as hyperchloremia. The main risk associated with this condition is high bodily acidity7as well as dehydration and impaired kidney function8, all of which are problematic.
If our bodies are too acidic, the immune function and many other cellular processes do not operate as effectively. Bone mineral density9and metabolic issues are also par for the course. Other problems caused by frequently consuming too much chloride include insulin resistance and an increased risk of diabetes.
We should be consuming 2300-3600mg of chloride per day, resulting in the same amount of salt as mentioned under sodium intake above – 3.8-5.8g.
Without this chloride in our diets, we would suffer from being too alkaline, as some of the essential nutrients in fruits and vegetables end up turning into bicarbonates in the body. Both bicarbonates and chloride are essential to maintaining a perfect acid-base balance.
#3 Unreliable Source of Iodine
This only truly applies to Himalayan Pink Salt and other non-iodized salts. Most people get their iodine from dairy products, eggs, seafood and fortified table salt.
Iodine deficiency is known to be a problem in those who switch from non-iodized salt or who do not consume enough dietary iodine. This is important as iodine is required by the thyroid to make many hormones in the body and regulate bodily functions.
Himalayan pink salt has an unreliable iodine content of less than 100mcg (micrograms) per gram. This means that it could be 1mcg or 500mcg if you ate 5g of Himalayan salt per day, making it unreliable as an effective source of iodine.
In terms of ordinary salt, ±0.01% is iodized. This equates to about 500-600mcg of iodine per the adequate daily dose of salt. Many tests have been done on the differences between consuming inorganic and organic forms of iodine, and both have proven to be safe10 (unless in amounts over the tolerable daily limit of 1100mcg) and effective ways to get iodine with a high absorption rate11.
If you wish to avoid eating normal iodized salt due to the additives (more on that below), then you need to make sure you eat sufficient iodine rich foods, especially seafood.
What About Himalayan Pink Salt Sole Side Effects?
‘Sole’ is a less common term used to describe brine or a mixture of salt and water. Some people firmly believe that it and other salt tummy flushes yield great health benefits, such as a stimulated metabolism and for use as a natural laxative.
Unfortunately, there is no data to back this up whatsoever and drinking this will just pile on your salt load, causing many awful problems later down the line. Perhaps it works as a natural laxative if heavily diluted and when using magnesium-based or potassium-based salts, as both magnesium and potassium have proven laxative effects12 (especially when taken with Vitamin C).
In terms of Himalayan Pink Salt Sole, you would experience the side effects of a sodium chloride imbalance and that is not a good idea. There are many better ways to boost your metabolism, such as drinking lemon water and eating a diet rich in leafy green vegetables and other forms of soluble fiber.
Busted! Himalayan Pink Sea Salt Myths
There are two main myths circulating the internet about Himalayan pink salt side effects, one of which promotes it as a mineral supplement and the other of which crucifies it for having radioactive particles.
Both of these myths are false and here’s why:
#1 Himalayan Salt Can Be Used As A Mineral Supplement With Amazing Benefits
Firstly, Himalayan pink salt has a rich mineral variety, not a rich mineral content. 2.59% of it comprises up the 84 minerals that some are proclaiming will help heal chronic conditions. It is true that minerals help, especially in our mineral-deficient world today, but using pink salt won’t cure anyone of a deficiency.
Out of that 2.59% that is not sodium or chloride, the highest mineral contents in Himalayan pink salt are awarded to sulfur at 12.4mg/g, calcium at 4.05mg/g, and potassium at 3.5mg/g respectively. Consuming 5g of Himalayan pink salt per day would then amount to consuming 62mg of sulfur, 20.25mg of calcium and 17.5mg of potassium extra.
It’s good to consume more minerals in trace amounts where one can, but these amounts are not significant enough to make a large difference considering one needs to consume at least 1000mg calcium and 3500mg potassium per day (sulfur is consumed in the form of amino acids and thus no intake has been set for it13).
The rest of the minerals in Himalayan pink salt are denoted in parts per million (ppm), not going over 4ppm and generally sticking under 1ppm, such as Chromium. This is a mineral found in pink salt that is known for enhancing glucose metabolism, but not at the amounts you would consume from it, namely 0.05 ppm (0.25mcg/5g salt).
Food is a much better source of plant-based nutrients. For example, one cup (30g) of spinach contains ±167mg of potassium14.
#2 The Radioactive Minerals In Himalayan Salts Are Dangerous
Some are concerned about the radioactive compounds found in Himalayan Salt such as Uranium, Radium and Plutonium and that they are a health hazard.
Firstly, the amounts are so small that they are negligible and are typically less than what we find naturally occurring in soil.
For example, Uranium found naturally in the Earth’s crust as well as in common dust blowing around the planet amounts to 0.0004%15. If you apply this percentage to parts per million, you land up with there being an average of 4 ppm of this in the earth as well as dust that we breathe, which is far more than the less than 0.001 ppm (less than 0.0000001%) found in pink Himalayan salt.
Either of these are not enough to cause problems in the amounts we consume them in, otherwise we would all already be diagnosed with some kind of radiation poisoning.
The same logic can be applied to the other minerals16 people are worried about in Pink Sea Salt. You would probably get more of them (along with an abundance of good immune-boosting minerals) from eating wholesome vegetables. 17
What Actually Makes Himalayan Salt Better Than Normal Salt?
There are in fact two things that make Himalayan Pink Salt superior to normal salt!
#1 Minimal Processing With No Toxic Additives
Himalayan pink sea salt is pristine because it hardly undergoes refinement. Before it is ready to be shipped off, it is rinsed clean, dried and stone ground.
Ordinary salt by comparison goes through multiple processes, such as:
- Chemical removal of all toxins (if harvested from a polluted area) and minerals, aside from sodium chloride.
- Bleaching to make it look white.
- The addition of anti-caking, free-flowing or conditioning agents to make the salt pour better.
- The addition of extra iodine.
Each time you consume salt, you are ingesting small portions of bleach, other chemicals and toxic additives.
The most common salt additives used are:
- Ferrocyanide, which has a low toxicity18 but has been known to cause kidney irritation and damage. While it is added in small quantities to salt, the body reabsorbs 40% of it19, meaning that eating it everyday will cause it to accumulate in your system and can contribute to kidney impairment in the long run.
- Aluminum Silicate, where the aluminum portion is mostly the problem. Aluminum accumulates in many tissues including the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, nerves and muscles20and after a time, it contributes to dementia in neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s Disease. It also blocks the absorption of other nutrients in the gut21 which may contribute to nutritional deficiencies. It’s best to avoid it as much as possible.
- Ammonium Citrate contains ammonia, which has recently been discovered to be toxic for those who have under-functioning livers22. This causes it to build up in the blood stream (instead of turning into urine), which can cause severe problems such as seizures and coma. It also interferes with the ability for nerve cells to absorb potassium, which could exacerbate problems in those with potassium deficiencies. Exposure to ammonium citrate is also known to cause breathing problems and skin or eye irritation23.
#2 Better Flavor
When you understand how much artificial stuff is added to ordinary salt, it’s hardly surprising that many chefs swear by the flavor of Himalayan Pink Sea Salt and other natural salts, such as Celtic Sea Salt.
Many people also prefer the flavor and some find it saltier than normal salt, which encourages one to use less of it too!
Himalayan Pink Salt Alternatives
Eating a healthy portion of Himalayan Pink Salt per day is not going to solve all your mineral deficiencies in a flash. Rather use pink salt because you like the taste and want to avoid toxic additives.
Here are some Himalayan Salt Alternatives that you can try to boost your mineral content:
Eating More Mineral-Rich Foods
Instead of relying on junk food and snacks, eat more mineral-rich foods in your diet24. Typically, the more variety you have in your diet, the better your nutrition will be. A colorful diet is generally a good indicator of optimal nutrition. Raw food tends to yield a higher mineral content than cooking food does and so eating more raw food is recommended.
Fruits and especially vegetables typically have some of the best mineral contents, including spinach, kale, broccoli, avocadoes, sprouted legumes, bananas, and blueberries. Nuts, fish and eggs are also good sources of nutrients.
Superfoods are foods that are exceptionally high in minerals, vitamins and antioxidants, which would also make valuable contributions to your diet. Maca root, acai berry and raw pure cacao are a few good ones.
Healthy oils help to absorb nutrients such as olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil. To promote the best possible outcomes, avoid processed food which tends to cause inflammation and metabolic problems.
Deep Sea Algae Extracts & Kelp Products
Deep Sea Algae and kelp are known to be rich in minerals and many healthful nutrients25 which act to promote growth, rejuvenation and heavy metal removal. Other benefits of consuming sea vegetables include massive reductions of inflammation, a vastly improved immune system and a good intake of iodine.
The mineral content is due to the fact that these sea organisms concentrate minerals from the sea. Especially mineral-rich varieties include ecklonia cava and chlorella, both of which are sold as natural supplements on the shelves. One of the best reasons to add more of these foods to your diet is their rich iodine content, which is required for optimal thyroid function.
Ionic Fulvic Mineral Supplements
Fulvic acid is an amazing compound that is created by bacteria in the soil. It binds to multiple trace minerals and converts them into an organic ionic form which plants (and us) can absorb easily26.
When we ingest fulvic acid in small amounts, it promotes better gut health and absorption of trace minerals. If bound to trace minerals, as found in ionic fulvic mineral supplements, it has a unique ability to by-pass into cellular membranes, delivering these nutrients precisely to the parts of our cells that need them. This is a truly efficient way to boost one’s nutrition!
Last, but not least, fulvic acid also removes toxins specifically from our cells27, which helps them to live longer, function better and generate more energy. This effect applies to our bodies as whole by default!
Shilajit is arguably the best form of an ionic fulvic mineral supplement. It is a black resin made from millions of years of decomposing plant matter which is harvested from high altitudes in the Himalayas and at various other sites around the world. It has an ancient 3000+ year record of healing many chronic ailments28.
Like Himalayan pink salt, it contains more than 84 trace minerals, however, the amounts in Shilajit are enough to make a difference to our lives. It can help to reverse mineral deficiencies, of which many people seem to have. Mineral deficiencies contribute to chronic lifestyle diseases by ultimately impairing the proper functioning of all cells in our bodies.
Shilajit also contains a great source of fulvic acid, meaning that the minerals in it reach all your cells and detox your cells simultaneously!
Furthermore, at the core of shilajit lies complexes of Dibenzo-Alpha-Pyrones (DBP) and carbon-6029, which work together to supply your mitochondria with a huge reservoir of electrons30. In other words, Shilajit gives you lots of energy!
These DBP-carbon-60 molecules are also very potent antioxidants, sometimes removing more than 30 free radicals at a time directly from DNA and protecting them from damage.
Drinking enough water is also important for getting an adequate amount of minerals. Mineral water tends to have decent levels of calcium and magnesium, as well as a few other trace minerals too. Water also helps with digestion immensely, allowing for more nutrients to be absorbed.
Dead Sea Bath Salts
While bathing in himalayan salt is better than bathing in ordinary table salt purely from a non-refined point of view, it won’t have any extra added health benefits. Having a salt water bath is similar to taking a swim in the ocean, except that swimming in the ocean will have a higher concentration of both trace minerals and sadly pollution.
Dead Sea Bath Salts, on the other hand, are incredibly high in magnesium (±40%) and potassium (±25%), while only containing ±5% sodium chloride.
This means they will work better than a nourishing Epsom salt bath in terms of rebalancing the body, nourishing the skin and alleviating pain in the joints.
Balneotherapy Spa treatments using Dead Sea Bath Salts have been scientifically proven to reduce pain in inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, psoriasis, dermatitis31, fibromyalgia32 and chronic lower back pain conditions33.
This is due to the high magnesium content, which enhances skin barrier function, reduces inflammation and rehydrates the skin. Magnesium is also vital for many biological processes, such as mineral absorption and optimal cellular performance; and most people are deficient in it.
NOTE: Do not eat dead sea bath salts. Rather stick to bathing in them.
Not All Dead Sea Salts Are The Same
The majority of dead sea salt goes to Jordan or Israel and gets purified removing all these minerals from them to form 99% sodium chloride. It’s important to request a lab result from the company you wish to purchase dead sea bath salts from to ensure it is of a good quality 34