Chloride (along with the other major potassium and sodium) is an essential electrolyte. That means it dissolves in water and carries an electrical charge. As the body is made mostly of water, electrolytes are found in all corners – in cells, in the areas between cells, the blood, glands and more.
As electrolytes have electrical charges (chloride is positive, potassium and sodium are negative), they travel back and forth easily through the membranes of cells. Crucial, because they carry other nutrients in with them as they move into a cell, and they carry out waste products and excess water as they move out of it. (1)
Chloride is in charge of maintaining acid/base balance, sending nerve impulses, and with the help of sodium and potassium allows for the passage of fluid in and out of cells. We get chloride everyday mostly from salt, such as sea salt or standard table salt. But you are also ingesting it in common foods such as olives, lettuce, celery and tomatoes. And as you’d suspect there’s quite a bit in items like seaweed and dulse.
Chloride moves around your body mostly with sodium and water. And it assists in generating the osmotic pressure of body fluids.
Chloride is crucial for your digestion as it’s a big component of the key digestive stomach acid, hydrochloric acid. It’s mandatory to keep regular your acid-base balance. Depending on whether they are trying to increase or decrease body acid levels, the kidneys get rid of or hang on to chloride mainly as sodium chloride. As well it is believed that chloride is instrumental in allowing the liver to get rid of waste products.
Too Much or Too Little?
Too much chloride (in excess of 15 grams daily) typically is a result of salt consumption. If it happens your acid alkaline balance will be affected, though the real culprit is the sodium itself and you’ll experience an increase in your blood pressure. Most adults need 1.7-5 grams daily. The RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) is 2.3 grams and the UL (Tolerable upper intake levels) is 3.6 grams , but due to our salt rich western diets many people exceed that range.
The outcome is your body fluids become too alkaline (called alkalosis) and you can experience low fluid volume, and urinary potassium loss. This can exacerbate the acid alkaline imbalance, but is alleviated by ingesting chloride.