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Table salt is refined salt, containing nearly pure (95% or greater) sodium chloride. It usually contains substances that make it free flowing (anticaking agents). It is common practice to put a few grains of rice in salt shakers to absorb extra moisture when anticaking agents are not enough. Table salt is also often iodized—a small amount of potassium iodide is added as a dietary supplement. Table salt is mainly employed in cooking and as a table condiment. Iodized table salt has essentially eliminated disorders of iodine deficiency in countries where it is used. Iodine is important to prevent the insufficient production of thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism), which can cause goiter, cretinism in children, and myxedema in adults.
Sodium is one of the primary electrolytes in the body. Too much or too little salt in the diet can lead to an electrolyte disturbance, which can cause severe, even fatal neurological problems. Excessive consumption of sodium has also been linked to high blood pressure, although it seems likely that the degree of this effect varies greatly depending on the individual.
Salt substitutes (with a taste similar to regular table salt) are available for individuals who wish to restrict their sodium intake. These substitutes contain mostly potassium chloride.
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