Chloride constitutes approximately 0.15% of human body
weight. It is primarily found in cerebrospinal fluid and gastrointestinal
secretions. Chloride is present in small amounts within bone. It is the major
anion in plasma and interstitial fluid, where it aids in the maintenance of
osmotic pressure and electrolytic balance.
Chloride is essential for the production of hydrochloric
acid, which is secreted from the parietal cells of the stomach, and vital in
maintaining the proper acidic environment for pepsin. Chloride is essential, as
are sulfur and phosphorus, in maintaining the acid/base balance of the body
fluids. It is essential in buffering the acid/base fluctuations which occur
during carbon dioxide uptake and release in red blood cells. It is also
influential in the conservation of potassium, which is inefficiently resorbed
by the body.
Chloride is absorbed primarily in the intestine and
secreted through urine, sweat, vomit, and diarrhea.
Chloride exists primarily in sodium chloride (table salt).
It is complexed with sodium in extracellular fluids, and with potassium in
Chloride is an integral part of hydrochloric acid which is
secreted from parietal cells in the stomach lining for the purpose of
establishing a favorable pH in which pepsin can function.
Chloride is membrane-permeable. It therefore has the
ability to pass freely in and out of the red blood cells, allowing the
maintenance of osmotic equilibrium despite changing bicarbonate levels in the
plasma and red blood cells.
Chloride and potassium supplements are effective in
treating metabolic alkalosis, which is caused by excessive potassium and
Sodium chloride (table salt) is useful in a variety of
therapeutic applications. For example, a 0.9% sodium chloride/water solution
has been found effective in rehydration treatment of excessive dehydration.
Sodium chloride supplementation is used to minimize decreases in blood volumes
experienced by fasting patients and it is advised for persons who have
experienced excessive perspiration, to reestablish lost electrolytes.
A decrease in sodium chloride consumption has been noted
as beneficial for persons suffering from congestive heart failure or
The use of diuretics, as well as excessive diarrhea and/or
vomiting, can deplete the body of chloride ions. This results in metabolic
alkalosis, a condition which leads to an elevated blood pH.
Symptoms of metabolic alkalosis include decreased
ventilation, a urinary pH change from alkali to acidic ranges, and excessive
excretion of potassium. Hypokalemic metabolic alkalosis is an acute deficiency
in potassium, accompanied by an elevation of blood and tissue pH. This disorder
affects muscle function, resulting in difficult respiration and swallowing and,
on occasion, death.
Chloride deficiency is most notably conspicuous in infants
fed exclusively on chloride-deficient formulae. This deficiency is
characterized by a loss of appetite, lethargy, muscle weakness, and severe
hypokalemic metabolic alkalosis.
Chloride has no known toxicity factor at this time, since
excess chloride is excreted from the body. A daily intake of more than 14 to 28
grams of salt is considered excessive.
No specific statement of human requirement for chloride
has been established. Because chlorides primary dietary source is from
sodium in table salt, an adequate sodium intake insures an ample chloride
| RDA for male adults:
|| 750 mg
| RDA for female adults
|| 750 mg
| RDA for children 7 to 10 years
|| 600 mg
| RDA for infants:
|| 180 - 300 mg
| RDA for pregnant and lactating women
|| 750 mg
| Beef liver
|| Salmon (canned)
| Veal liver
|| Vegetables (canned)
| Chicken liver
|| Dried beef
|| Olives (green)
|| Lamb liver
|| Peanut butter
| Table salt
|| Tomato juice
|| Turkey liver