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Explaining the news: Salt found in effervescent tablets

The issue is particularly prevalent in effervescent tablets, which have the potential to tip users over their recommended daily intake of sodium.

Sodium is linked to strokes, heart attacks and high blood pressure, which makes it particularly concerning for patients currently being treated for related health problems. But before you worry too much, the British Heart Foundation has assured patients that the research can only really be applied to people who take this medication every day. All medicines containing sodium will advise as such within the accompanying leaflet, too, so you won't be taken by surprise should you start a new course of medication.

Why is there salt in tablets?

Effervescent tablets use bicarbonate to fizz and dissolve into water - you may have seen this yourself either in vitamin tablets, painkillers or during school experiments. This is often combined with sodium to make the process more effective, in quantities ranging from 3mmol to around 18mmol - roughly one-fifth of a teaspoon.

How much would you have to consume?

Your recommended daily allowance of salt, or sodium, is ideally around 100mmol or under. A single tablet isn't going to spike your sodium intake very much, but if you were taking the maximum amount each day, you might easily ingest too much sodium before you'd even taken your diet into account. As an example, eight soluble paracetamol tablets were found to have around 148.8mmol of sodium.

What happens now?

The information is relatively new, so it's likely that next steps are still being decided upon, but the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has said it will be reviewing the findings carefully to draw as many conclusions from the data as possible. In the meantime, you may wish to speak to your GP if you're concerned, as they may recommend you switch to a different form of tablet for any medication you're currently taking.

Resources

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-25091741

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/salt.aspx

http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/publication/why6g0408.pdf

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