Nutrition 101: Chloride

Written By: Carolyn Berry, RD

Alumni: University of British Columbia

Last Updated on:

Chloride is found in many chemicals and other substances in the body. It is needed to keep the proper balance of body fluids and is an essential part of digestive juices.

Recom​mended Intakes

The Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) for chloride are shown below:

Age Group Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) per Day Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) per Day *
19 to 50 years 2.3 g 3.6 g
51 to 70 years 2.0 g 3.6 g
70 years and up 1.8 g 3.6 g
Kids and Youth
1 to 3 years 1.5 g 2.3 g
4 to 8 years 1.9 g 2.9 g
9 to 13 years 2.3 g 3.4 g
9 to 18 years 2.3 g 3.6 g
Special Considerations
Pregnant women 14 years and up 2.3 g 3.6 g
Lactating women 14 years and up 2.3 g 3.6 g

What Does Chloride Do?

Chloride travels primarily with sodium and water and helps generate the osmotic pressure of body fluids. It is an important constituent of stomach hydrochloric acid (HCl), the key digestive acid. Chloride is also needed to maintain the body’s acid-base balance. The kidneys excrete or retain chloride mainly as sodium chloride, depending on whether they are trying to increase or decrease body acid levels. Chloride may also be helpful in allowing the liver to clear waste products.

Excessive sweating, diarrhea or vomiting may cause a temporary loss of chloride, but actual deficiency is rare.

Toxicity is also rare, although dehydration may cause higher levels of chloride, which is easily alleviated by drinking fluids.

Top Chloride-Rich Food Sources

Chloride is found in table salt or sea salt as sodium chloride. Other common sources include yeast extracts, processed luncheon meats, cheeses, flavoured oatmeal, breakfast cereals, and other processed foods. For this reason, most North Americans probably get more chloride than needed

Foods naturally containing chloride include seaweed, rye, tomatoes, lettuce, celery, and olives.

Chloride, together with potassium, is also found in most foods and is usually the main ingredient of salt substitutes.

Nutrition Facts Label and the % Daily Value

In the United States: The % daily value gives you an idea of how much chloride is in the food you eat. The Daily Value (DV) for chloride is 3.4 grams, which is higher than the RDA for all ages. The number you see on the Nutrition Facts label is a percentage calculated by dividing the amount of chloride in one serving of the food by the daily value. Chloride is not required to be listed on the Nutrition Facts Table, therefore it is often not listed.

In Canada: The Daily Value for chloride in Canada is also is 3.4 grams. Chloride is not required to be listed on the Nutrition Facts Table, therefore it is often not listed.

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