Chlorine is considered a nutrient, macro-mineral. It is an element distributed throughout the body fluids. It is required by the body to maintain the correct acid-base balance in the blood. It is also used to synthesize hydrochloric acid in the stomach.

An element found in biological tissues as the chloride ion; the body contains about 100?g (3?mol) of chloride and the average diet contains 6-7?g (0.17-0.2?mol), mainly as sodium chloride (ordinary salt). Free chlorine is used as a sterilizing agent, e.g. for drinking water.

Use in the Body: Helps regulate the balance of acid and alkali in the blood. It is a part of hydrochloric acid, which is found in the digestive juices of the stomach.

Deficiency May Lead to: Atherosclerosistion, weak water retention.

Notes: Excess chlorine is excreted.

Best Sources: Table salt, ripe tomatoes, celery, lettuce, kelp, spinach, salty foods.

Physiological Functions

Chlorine is involved in maintenance of acid-base balance. Plasma chlorine contributes to plasma buffering capacity by diffusion into red blood cells which allows bicarbonate to exit without upsetting electrical neutrality in these cells. Transmembrane exchange of chlorine with sodium and potassium in all cells maintains electrical neutrality and fluid balance needed for appropriate intracellular osmolality and pH, and for normal muscle contraction and nerve transmission. Chlorine also promotes renal retention of potassium. Chlorine aids in protein digestion by contributing to synthesis of gastric hydrochloric acid.


Chlorine deficiency is rare because sodium chloride (table salt) is readily found in many processed foods. However, excessive losses in perspiration, diarrhea, vomiting, and in renal disease may lead to chlorine imbalance. Renal chloride losses are also enhanced by thiazide diuretics.


Dehydration is the only condition which can elevate serum chlorine levels. Toxic levels of intake have not been identified.


Dietary requirements for chlorine have not been established because dietary deficiencies have not been observed.

Dietary Sources

Processed or commercially prepared foods containing salt (sodium chloride) are rich in chlorine. A small amount of chlorine is obtained from the water supply.

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