A high-salt diet may not only increase blood pressure, but also contribute to liver damage in adults and developing embryos, a new study has warned.
Our bodies need a small amount of salt - the US government recommends one teaspoon per day if you are a healthy adult, researchers said.
Among other functions, the sodium ions from the savoury mineral help regulate water movement within the body and conduct nerve impulses, they said.
Some research indicates that in addition to high blood pressure, overconsumption of sodium can damage the liver.
Xuesong Yang from Jinan University in China and colleagues wanted to explore the potential effect at a cellular level.
The researchers gave adult mice a high-salt diet and exposed chick embryos to a briny environment.
Excessive sodium was associated with a number of changes in the animals' livers, including oddly shaped cells, an increase in cell death and a decrease in cell proliferation, which can contribute to the development of fibrosis.
The researchers did find that treating damaged cells with vitamin C appeared to partially counter the ill effects of excess salt.
The study was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.