Large Study Expands View of Sodium Intake

Too Little Salt Shown to be Dangerous, Too




Dietary Guidelines for Americans, published by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, recommends that people 50 years old and younger keep their sodium intake lower than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day, while those over 50 keep sodium ingestion below 1,500 mg. However, a large international study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine reveals a different story.

Measuring levels of sodium and potassium excreted in the urine of 101,945 people between 35 and 70 years old from 17 low, middle and high-income countries, Canadian scientists found that consuming less than 3,000 mg of sodium per day was associated with a 77 percent increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Consuming between 3,000 and 6,000 mg of sodium daily was linked to lower risks of both cardiovascular disease and earlier mortality, while consuming more than 7,000 mg daily was associated with a 54 percent increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

The researchers added that current guidelines for sodium consumption have been based upon shorter studies that showed only modest results. They also determined that daily consumption of 1,500-plus mg of potassium related to a significantly reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and earlier mortality. Consuming less than 1,500 mg was linked to increased risk.

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