As the world becomes more globalized and first world countries seek ever more food choices, the specialty salt industry has boomed. Top among the winners is himalayan salt, which is used in food products with purported health benefits in addition to lamps to detoxify the air. As usual, the greatest question most healthy skeptics ask is…
Are there real benefits of himalayan salt?
As usual, the science is not black and white, but there is some interesting science on the topic. If you wait until the end, we’ll make some recommendations about himalayan pink salt and whether it’s just a fad or not.
Himalayan Salt: What’s the Origin?
The source of current himalayan salt (as the name implies) is the Himalayan mountains in northern India, Pakistan, and Tibet. This region of the world produces pink salt that comes from old deposits deep under the surface.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the salt is sourced from salt flats that are 4,992 feet below the surface, which was founded in early Cambrian times around 540 million years ago . The idea is that this old salt, very unique by the historical context, has special benefits for health.
Whether this is a ploy to market a different colored salt for more money than others is a question on the top of many people’s’ minds.
Isn’t Salt Just Salt?
Salt typically refers to sodium and when we consider pure sodium, salt is indeed salt. However, salt is used synonymously with the products we add to our food… and sometimes there is more than salt in our product.
In traditional table salt, one of the main added ingredients is iodine, which is a major and essential nutrient required for adequate function . In fact, supplementing iodine during pregnancy can raise the average IQ by greater than 13 IQ points (in poorer regions of the world). This is a major reason why table salt (or iodized salt) is more than simply sodium.
The claim against iodized table salt is that many products contain anti-clumping agents and bleaching processes that are not healthy, but this “war on salt” as some scientific-minded people call it may be misguided.
In contrast, the claim for himalayan salt is that it comes more pure and has a host of trace minerals like potassium. We do know there is basis for the assertion that salt has different mineral composition when we consider Dead sea salt, which is not recommended due to high bromide content .
Himalayan Salt Benefits: Any Value to Pink Salt?
There does NOT seem to be a lot of data suggesting that himalayan salt is highly beneficial compared to any other type.
In fact, a common search in Google used by scientifically-minded individuals shows 0 results for “himalayan salt NCBI”. The NCBI database is used to house all studies on a particular subject and the lack of evidence is stunning.
Even more stunning is how willing Dr. Axe seems to be in promoting himalayan salt benefits without good sources. Most of his sourcing is coming from blogs of low quality and while I realize he’s definitely not the one writing the content, it is saddening all the same.
Pink Himalayan Salt Lamps
One of the final benefits of pink himalayan salt is as a detoxifier for the air. Salt lamps are said to remove airborne toxins and provide positive energy as negative ions that bring oxygen to the brain.
Not only are these claims unfounded, but they may be the opposite of the truth. According to a 2007 study, high-density ionization may be beneficial for people with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) .
Verdict: Himalayan salt lamps are affordable for decorative value, but have little health benefit.
The Truth About Himalayan Salt
There doesn’t seem to be much evidence for or against himalayan salt, which is good news in some regards. For people who feel some type of placebo from himalayan salt benefits, feel free to continue utilizing this great tool in our biological arsenal.
Unfortunately, keep in mind what replacement salts are doing to consumption of iodine. Females especially need a high quantity of iodine  and even more so when pregnant. A culture like the Japanese are some of the highest iodine consumers in the world (particularly through seaweed) and there is a direct correlation with their longevity and high IQ .
As people run away from iodized salt, they undoubtedly run into the open arms of himalayan salt and others, which has very little evidence and definitely no substantial research in its favor. Better to opt for the tried and true.
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