Everybody needs sodium to survive, both for muscle health and to manage fluid in the body.
But USDA's Economic Research Service found we probably don't need as much sodium as we're eating. Too much sodium can back up into the bloodstream and cause heart or kidney issues.
Using data from a three-year study that wrapped up in 2010, ERS found that most Americans, from toddlers on up, consume about 1650 milligrams of sodium per 1000 calories consumed. The ratio is recommended closer to 1100 milligrams of sodium per thousand calories.
When eating away from home, for example, at fast-food restaurants, Americans tended to eat just under 1900 milligrams of sodium. Meals at home weren't exactly the healthiest, though; they tended to have over 1500 milligrams of sodium per thousand calories.