I've heard mixed things about the differences between the two:
1) Sea salt and table salt have the same nutritional value. The real differences between sea salt and table salt are in their taste and texture.
2) Natural salt is a source of 21 essential and 30 accessory minerals that are essential to our health. Refined table salt contain only 0.1 - 0.5% other elements.
Does anyone know the scoop on salt?
They are both predominately sodium chloride (NaCl) the rest is pretty much hype. Sea salt has other trace minerals, but in very small quantities. Buy what's on sale and look to other sources for your minerals. You might look at lite salt instead, potasium chloride (edited).
So the differences aren't that big of a deal--that's good to hear. Because I had even come across this statement regarding the issue: "When organic, unrefined salt is lacking in your diet, weakness and sickness follow." It sounded so drastic that I decided to research a little more. And that is when I ran into conflicting information. Thank you for your input!
I love it. "Unrefined salt". How exactly do you refine salt? Salt is salt. They mine it or dry it, clean it, maybe grind it, and package it. I would be leery of any sensationalistic unsubstantiated claims like that. How about all the real medical studies showing that too much sodium in your diet is a bad thing? You don't need to add salt to anything you prepare, you are getting plenty from packaged foods.
The biggest difference between the salts is that table salt is fortified with iodine, sea salt is not fortified. Iodine is essential for the functioning of the thyroid gland and if you have an iodine deficiency it can result in a condition called "goiter". As eluded to in another response, commercially prepared foods likely have enough added salt to meet your needs. Adding salt to your food is likely not necessary as iodine requirements are very very small. compliments of a Registered Dietitian
Many salts are refined and this results in the stark white colour. Some sea salts have more trace minerals than others & may contain additives. There is a product widely available at health food stores called RealSalt--it is mined from ancient sea beds & is a pure salt that contains no pollutants, has more than 50 trace minerals, contains no additives or chemicals. Try it, tastes great. All sea salts have different flavours, some are even smoked. Experiment!
Sodium Chloride is the first "salt" to precipitate out of brine as it evaporates. If evaporation is taken to completion, then many trace minerals will also start to precipitate. If the salt comes from an old evaporite bed, it may have other minerals than sodium chloride, and these minerals may or may not be beneficial, (K, Pb, As) but they will probably be in such a small quantity, that they don't matter one way or the other. There is no reason to consume so much salt that the trace elements contained will amount to anything good or bad. Eat bananas.
Jimmy the Sport, I beg to differ. How do you know that the trace minerals are in such a small quantity that it doesn't matter. Red salt harvested in Hawaii or the Himalayas has higher levels of Iron and Magnesium, and they may or may not be beneficial to people with Anemia. Your line of argument is similar to those who claim that organic food does not contain significant amounts of trace minerals. Even a minute amount of Cobalt in compost can translate into significant increases in Vitamin B12.
Another point of interest is NaCl vs. K. The macrobiotic classic Acid and Alkaline by Herman Aihara, discusses the relationship of Sodium and Potassium in foods, specifically related to the potential Hydrogen (pH). Sure, eat bananas for Potassium, but most foods have some level of Na and K. Selecting potent nutrient sources based on this ratio is one method for determining a food's vitaly. Might want to check that out. Good book, lots of interesting facts.
And, did you know... the word salary comes from Latin (sal), because Roman soliders were paid in salt. salud!