Most people may be better off healthwise if they don’t change their current sodium consumption levels, new research suggests.
Sodium intake has become controversial recently, as newer studies questioned recommendations limiting daily intake to no more than 2300 mg, which is the equivalent of about 1 teaspoon of salt. So researchers in Denmark and the United States set out to see if they could find a sodium intake range associated with the least risk of having a cardiovascular disease event or dying from any cause.
The investigators analyzed data from 23 prospective cohort studies and 2 randomized controlled trials that included 274 683 study participants. They examined mortality and cardiovascular disease risks according to 4 sodium consumption levels: less than 2645 mg/d, between 2645 and 4945 mg/d, and more than 4945 mg/d.
Their findings showed that people whose sodium intake is between 2645 and 4945 mg/d —90% of the world’s population consumes sodium amounts within that range—had the lowest mortality and cardiovascular disease risks. The investigators found no difference in health outcomes between the lowest and highest intake levels of that range.
However, excessively high or low sodium consumption levels were associated with reduced survival and increased cardiovascular events, according to the data published today in the American Journal of Hypertension. One exception was stroke risk, which was no different between those with low intake and study participants whose sodium consumption was in the middle range.
“Our results are in line with the [Institute of Medicine’s] concern that lower levels could produce harm, and they provide a concrete basis for revising the recommended range in the best interest of public health,” lead author Niels Graudal, MD, of the University of Copenhagen Hospital, said in a statement.
Graudal was a member of the Institute’s Food and Nutrition Board that in 2013 released a new report indicating that existing scientific evidence isn’t sufficient enough to establish an upper limit for sodium consumption. In 2004, however, the Institute defined the upper limit intake as 2300 mg/d and adequate consumption as 1200 to 1500 mg/d. The average US resident consumes about 3400 mg/d.