Salt Licks and Fat


There are many animals that seek salt licks,  which refers to areas where the salt concentration in the soil or ground is high.  Hooved animals, such as deer, particularly like salt licks and can travel miles to find them.  Studies have shown that it is the salt (sodium chloride) that they seek, and not other minerals.  One reason might be because we have taste buds for salty foods, and so it might be simply driven by taste.  However, several studies suggest that salt licks may stimulate growth and weight gain.  Our work suggests that the intake of salt can stimulate the production of fructose in the body, and that it may be a way to gain fat.  This may occur because salt intake can mimic dehydration and cause thirst, and by stimulating the storage of fat, it provides a source of metabolic water.



  1. Joyce, J.P. and Brunswick, C.F. (1975) Sodium supplementation of sheep and cattle fed lucerne. New Zealand Journal of Experimental Agriculture, 3: 299-304.
  2. Lanaspa, M.A., Kuwabara, M., Andres-Hernando, A., Li, N., Cicerchi, C., Jensen, T., Orlicky, D.J., Roncal-Jimenez, C.A., Ishimoto, T., Nakagawa, T., Rodriguez-Iturbe, B., MacLean, P.S. and Johnson, R.J. (2018) High salt intake causes leptin resistance and obesity in mice by stimulating endogenous fructose production and metabolism. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 115: 3138-3143.