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name of the term : Chloride

Short introduction

  • Chloride is a mineral with the symbol Cl.
  • Chloride is an electrolyte, like sodium and potassium.
  • The human body uses electrolytes for regulating nerve and muscle function and to maintain the water and acid-base balance.
  • Chloride is a component of (table) salt: 40% sodium and 60% chloride. Symbol: NaCl.

Main natural sources

  • Found in table salt or sea salt and in many vegetables including seaweed, rye, tomatoes, lettuce, celery, olives.
  • Potassium chloride (KCl) is used as a salt substitute.

Main function

  • Found mainly in the extracellular fluid along with sodium. Required for the proper balance of body fluids.
  • Essential part of digestive (stomach) juices. In the stomach, chloride combines with hydrogen (H) to form hydrochloric acid (HCl). This stomach acid is responsible for the breakdown of protein and activation of the intrinsic factor (a protein essential for vitamin B12 absorption in the intestine), for example.

Deficiency disease

  • Chloride is normally lost in the urine, sweat and stomach secretions. Although a deficiency is rare, excessive loss can occur from heavy sweating or vomiting. This may lead to alkalosis – a life-threatening condition in which the blood becomes excessively alkaline (opposite of acidity). This can cause further problems in the acid-base balance. Symptoms include muscle weakness, loss of appetite, irritability, dehydration and apathy.
  • In infancy, metabolic alkalosis associated with chloride deficiency has been reported as a result of chloride losses such as from the gastrointestinal tract after vomiting and familial chloride diarrhoea.
  • Excessive intakes of dietary chloride occur with the intake of large amounts of salt. This may cause problems with fluid retention, high blood pressure and altered acid-base balance (although these are attributed to the high sodium levels).
  • Healthy individuals can tolerate the intake of large quantities of chloride provided that there is a simultaneous intake of fresh water. Elevations in chloride may be seen in diarrhoea and certain kidney diseases.

Recommended daily intake

Latest Dietary Reference Intakes  (DRIs) 
Institute of Medicine (IOM)

Age categoryPer day

Pregnancy
Lactation

2.3 g (AI)
2.3 g (AI)
Infants 6 – 12 months0.57 g (AI)
Children
 1 – 3 years
 4 – 8 years
1.5 g (AI)
1.9 g (AI))
Males
 9 – 13 years
14 – 18 years
19 – 30 years
31 – 50 years
50 – 70 years
> 70 years
2.3 g (AI)
2.3 g (AI)
2.3 g (AI)
2.3 g (AI)
2.0 g (AI)
1.8 g (AI))
Females
 9 – 13 years
14 – 18 years
19 – 30 years
31 – 50 years
50 – 70 years
> 70 years
2.3 g (AI)
2.3 g (AI)
2.3 g (AI)
2.3 g (AI)
2.0 g (AI)
1.8 g (AI)

 

AI = Adequate Intake.


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