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From: ((Steven B. Harris))
Subject: Re: Calcium sources & primitive peoples?
Date: 24 May 1995

In <3psto0$> (Scott Ballantyne)

>In article <3psahh$> ((Steven B. Harris))
>>those things bind minerals...). A recent edition of National Geographic
>>shows a wonderful picture of a bunch of mountain goats standing on tiny
>>ledges all the way up a 100s of feet high sheer cliff, licking it.
>Probably salt starved - that's the biggest lack in high-country
>ecology. I've had several close encounters of the goat kind on
>climbing trips - they love pack straps (rich in salt from the sweat)
>and such.  A friend of mine was once awakened before an ascent by a
>peculiar feeling around her feet - she looked down to see a big buck
>licking her feet devotedly.

ROFL!   A great story, and I don't suppose too many people can tell it.
Once I was completely forced off the quite narrow trail about a half
mile below Grand Canyon south rim by a huge grey creature which seemed
the size of a shetland pony as it went past (me cowering up against the
rock wall).  When my brain started functioning again, I realized it was
a bighorn ram.  The ewe came daintily along later, but found a place to
hide first so we could pass.  I suppose the ram probably would have got
me right in the stomach if I hadn't stepped aside.  They have reinforced
necks and spines like linebackers.  They can have my salt any time.


From: (Steven B. Harris )
Subject: Re: The effect of salt on health
Date: 24 Jul 1995

In <3uu0dh$> (David Buss) writes:

>I am wondering what effect salt has on my health.
>I consume about 3 cups of popcorn (Orville Redenbacher's SmartPop) a
>day.  It's low in calories and fat, but high in salt.
>My understanding is that certain individuals are salt-sensitive--and
>therefore must watch salt intake--and other people are not.  Can the
>people who are not salt-sensitive consume as much salt as they want
>with no ill effects?
>What negative effects on the body does salt have?  How does it effect
>the blood pressure in salt-sensitive and non-salt-sensitive
>individuals?  Myself, I have slightly low blood pressure...  Does that
>mean I have nothing to worry about?  Will this change as I age?  (I am
>Any answers to these questions would be appreciated.

Forget it.  So long as your blood pressure stays low, salt will have no
adverse effects on your health, unless you eat such incredible amounts
from picked foods and soy as to increase your risk of stomach cancer,
like the Japanese.  But for normal amounts, such as are found in the
average American food, no.  Enjoy your popcorn.

                                       Steve Harris, M.D.

From: B. Harris)
Subject: Re: Why do we need salt ?
Date: Sun, 12 Oct 1997

In <> Tom Matthews <> writes:

>I don't know what the symptoms would be. Maybe Steve Harris knows.
>I don't use any salt either.

Classic salt depletion symptoms are weakness, fatigue, frontal
headache, giddiness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, and muscle
cramps.  But this kind of thing occurs only in hot climates with a lot
of sweating.  Without heat stress or diarrhea, it's just about
impossible for a healthy person to eat a diet which supplies enough
calories but doesn't supply enough sodium.  The body is VERY good at
conserving it (hey-- we're primates that did the last step of our
evolution on a savanah).  Absolute sodium requirements in the absense
of stressors are less than 500 mg a day.  Maybe a fifth of what you get
in one Big Mac.

                                            Steve Harris, M.D.

From: B. Harris)
Subject: Re: Fluoride
Date: 10 Mar 1998 06:42:05 GMT

In <> Rob Buckley <>

>You did this with chlorine AND fluorine? What were you teaching,
>suicide 101?

   More interesting to me is where he got the fluorine.  It's not easy
to come by.  Only one US corporation sells it (Air Liquide, if I

>>Interestingly, Chloride is NOT ubiquitous in living systems!! In fact,
>>none of the halogens are! And while potassium, magnesium, and calcium
>>_are_ ubiquitous, _sodium_ is not! Incredible that of all things, NaCl
>>is not universal.
>Do you have a source for this? I believe sodium and chlorine are
>ubiquitous. (da Silva & Williams, "The Biological Chemistry of the
>Elements", admittedly now 5 years old.)

    No, he's right.  NaCl is what mammals and reptiles and so on
brought from the ocean with them, but in land plants, insects, and so
on (a lot of biomass) there's hardly any.  That's why saltlicks are so
important to vegetarian animals, don't you know.

    Halogenated organics are really quite rare in life.  There are a
bunch of alga which make chlorinated and brominated organics, but
that's about it.  The rest of the halogens just float around as
inorganic ions (with the important exception of iodine-- which goes WAY
back phylogenetically as a hormonal consituent, but doesn't do a lot
else).  Other than simple Cl- and Br-, halogens are used in the body
in inorganic attack chemicals.  OCl- in neutrophils and OBr- in
eosoinophils.  And there are some odd plants in South Africa (Gifblaar,
Dichapetalum cymosum) which make fluoroacetic acid F-CH2-COOH, which
(as the Na salt) is also used as a horribly toxic varmint-o-cide in the
U.S. (compound 1080)  It's the only naturally occuring land plant
organofluoride I know of.  Nasty Krebs cycle poison.  Some gruesome
manufacturing stories exist about making the free acid, until everybody
learned to wear spacesuits.

                                 Steve Harris

From: Steve Harris <>
Newsgroups: sci.chem,,,
Subject: Re: Extra salty taste of sodium bicarbonate - why?
Date: 16 Apr 2005 17:40:10 -0700
Message-ID: <>

The receptors are registering sodium ions Na+. These ions taste salty
whether in sodium chloride, sodium fluoride, sodium bromide, sodium
bicarbonate, or any sodium salt that is reasonably neutral.

Small positive ions in general taste salty. Other examples are ammonium
NH4+ and lithium Li+.  Both have been used for salt substitutes.
Potassium K+ tastes salty, but also bitter at the same time, so it's
not as good a substitute. But also has been used to partially replace


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