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Mineral Nutrient :: Chloride


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Content Below: What is Chloride · Benefits · Deficiency Signs · Foods · Supplements · RDA · Toxicity

What is Chloride ?
Chlorine in the body exists in the form of chloride, an essential electrolyte mineral.  It is best known as the other half of sodium-chloride or table salt.

It makes up about 0.15% of body weight (around 115 g for an average adult) and is found mainly in the fluid surrounding cells, alongside sodium.

A small percentage of about 15% of chloride in the body is located inside cells, with the highest amounts in red blood cells.  Chloride is also present in very small amounts in bones.

Most of our chloride intake is from table salt.  It is easily absorbed by the intestines. It is eliminated through the kidneys in a finely tuned mechanism that regulates acid-base balance by either removing or retaining chloride.

How Chloride Benefits Health
This electrolyte mineral works with the other electrolytes potassium and sodium to maintain the proper balance of body fluids, as well as their pH balance.  Chloride is also an essential component of digestive juices, as it is needed with hydrogen to form stomach hydrochloric acid.

:: Chloride Benefits & Functions
1. keeps the amount of fluid within and around cells in balance
2. helps regulate the pH (acid-alkali / acid-base) balance of body fluids
3. maintains proper blood volume and pressure
4. critical constituent of hydrochloric acid, a key component of gastric juice secreted by the stomach that is vital for maintaining the normal acidic environment needed by pepsin, and aids digestion and absorption of many nutrients including iron and vitamin B12
5. may help conserve potassium


Chloride Deficiency Symptoms and Causes
Deficiency of chloride, or when blood levels of it drop too low, is known as hypochloremia.  It is rare, as chloride is part of table salt which is present in most foods.  In fact, people are prone to consuming more chloride than is really needed, due to salt-laden diets.

Hypochloremia can occur however, for a variety of reasons that include :
  • heavy sweating, as large amounts of sodium and chloride can be lost in perspiration
  • excessive fluid loss due to prolonged diarrhea or vomiting, or overuse of coffee or laxatives or diuretics
  • over-hydration
  • burns
  • congestive heart failure
  • certain kidney disorders
  • Addison's disease
  • most often seen in infants on chloride-deficient formulae

In the unlikely event that it occurs, a few chloride deficiency symptoms can be identified.

:: Chloride Deficiency Symptoms
1. loss of appetite
2. muscle weakness
3. lethargy
4. dehydration
5. deficiency leads to alkalosis, a condition in which body fluids have excess base (alkali), that can result in dangerously high blood pH and excessive loss of potassium in urine (which in turn causes hypokalemic metabolic alkalosis with symptoms that include loss of control of muscle function which might lead to breathing and swallowing difficulties)


Chloride Foods
Chloride is found in almost all foods in the salt that is added, often in large amounts, during processing or cooking.

Foods high in chloride are · table salt or sea salt (sodium chloride) · salt substitutes such as potassium chloride · seaweed (such as dulse and kelp) · olives · rye · vegetables like celery, lettuce, tomatoes · preserved meats such as bacon, ham, sausages · processed or canned or fast foods that are high in salt.

Other chloride food sources include · cheese · vegetables · yeast extract · as potassium chloride found in most foods.


Chloride Supplements
Taking vitamins and minerals in their correct balance is vital to the proper functioning of all vitamins.  They work synergistically, which means that the effectiveness of any one nutrient requires, or is enhanced, sometimes dramatically, by the presence of certain other nutrients.

For this reason, if you are looking to take supplements for maintenance of optimal health, the recommended approach is to take a multi-vitamin that has the proper balance of all the necessary nutrients your body needs.

For a list of reputable top ranked vitamin and mineral supplements chosen in an independent supplement review, see Best Multivitamin Supplements. Many of these are manufactured to pharmaceutical or nutraceutical GMP compliance, which is the highest multivitamin standard possible.

Keep in mind, however, that while mineral supplements are useful to plug nutritional gaps that are almost inevitable in modern diets, and to ensure we get optimal doses of nutrients, they are no substitute for a good diet. Instead, use them to complement a healthy diet and lifestyle.


Chloride RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance)
The Food & Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, in their 1997-2001 collaboration between the US and Canada, set the daily Adequate Intake (AI) of Chloride as follows.

Life Stage | Gender Chloride Dosage | Day
Infants 0-6 mths 0.18* g
Infants 7-12 mths 0.57* g
Children 1-3 yrs 1.5* g
Children 4-8 yrs 1.9* g
Girls 9-13 Yrs 2.3* g
Boys 9-13 Yrs 2.3* g
Females 14-18 Yrs 2.3* g
Males 14-18 Yrs 2.3* g
Females 19-50 Yrs 2.3* g
Males 19-50 Yrs 2.3* g
Females 50-70 Yrs 2.0* g
Males 50-70 Yrs 2.0* g
Adults older than 70 Yrs 1.8* g
Pregnant Women 14-18 Yrs 2.3* g
Pregnant Women 19-50 Yrs 2.3* g
Lactating Mothers 14-18 Yrs 2.3* g
Lactating Mothers 19-50 Yrs 2.3* g

These dosages are the minimum required per day to ward off deficiency. In therapeutic use of this nutrient, dosage is increased as necessary for the ailment, keeping in mind Chloride toxicity levels.


1 µg = 1 mcg = 1 microgram = 1/1,000,000 of a gram
1 mg = 1 milligram = 1/1,000 of a gram

* Indicates AI figures based on Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) figures


Chloride Overdose Symptoms, Toxicity Level & Side Effects
A higher-than-normal level of chloride in blood is known as hyperchloremia. It is normally not a concern as excess chloride is excreted by the body.

However very high intakes of more than 15 g a day for instance, usually in the form of salt, may lead to symptoms such as acid-base (pH) imbalance, fluid retention, and high blood pressure.  (Although the problems can be attributed more to the excessive sodium than the chloride.)

Hyperchloremia may therefore be due to :
  • excessively high intake of sodium chloride (table salt) or potassium chloride
  • reduced urinary excretion in certain cases of cancer, gastritis, and kidney disease
  • dehydration
  • intake of certain drugs

The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine has set Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (UL) for chloride.  These are levels above which there is risk of chloride toxicity, especially when taken over a long time.

Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (UL) for Chloride per Day
Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
0 to 12 months *ND *ND    
1 to 3 years 2.3 g 2.3 g    
4 to 8 years 2.9 g 2.9 g    
9 to 13 years 3.4 g 3.4 g    
14 years & above 3.6 g 3.6 g 3.6 g 3.6 g
*ND : Not determinable.  Intake should be from food/milk only.

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1. Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary reference intakes for water, potassium, sodium, chloride, and sulfate. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 2004.

2. U.S. National Libary of Medicine [NLM] & National Institutes of Health [NIH]: MedlinePlus. NLM-NIH home page. <http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus>. Use the built-in search function to find specific data. Accessed 2009 March – June.

3. Oregon State University, Linus Pauling Institute. Micronutrient Information Center [MIC]: Micronutrient research for optimum health. MIC home page. <http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter>. Accessed 2009 May.

4. Ulene A. Dr. Art Ulene's complete guide to vitamins, minerals and herbs. New York, NY: Avery Publishing; 2000.

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