Reducing Sodium Intake Key to Lowering Cardiovascular Disease Risk

January 2016, Vol 4, No 1 - Inside Cardiometabolic Health
E. K. Charles

Reducing sodium consumption is an essential part of health and wellness and cardiovascular disease prevention, according to researchers.

“Cardiovascular diseases remain the number one killer in the United States, and a multifaceted strategy, including changes in individual lifestyles and how food are produced, might contribute to the reduction of sodium consumption by Americans of all ages,” Sandra L. Jackson, PhD, of the Epidemic Intelligence Service, and Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, GA, and colleagues explained.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend a dietary sodium intake of <2300 mg daily in people aged ≥14 years. Dr Jackson and colleagues sought to examine the current prevalence of excess sodium intake among Americans and patients with hypertension. Data from almost 15,000 people (aged ≥2 years) who participated in the 2009-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey were included in the analysis.

Overall, data from the survey indicated that 89% of adults and >90% of children exceeded recommendations for daily sodium consumption. Eighty-six percent of patients with hypertension exceeded daily recommended sodium intake. To address this issue, the Institute of Medicine recommended the reduction of sodium in the food supply, including during commercial processing and preparation, which accounts for most of the sodium intake in US diets.

Taking a close look at these data, Dr Jackson and colleagues estimated mean usual daily sodium and calorie intake, as well as sodium density. Of adults aged ≥19 years, 89% consumed excess sodium. Furthermore, the authors found that a significantly greater proportion of men (98%) than women (80%) consumed >2300 mg of dietary sodium daily (P <.001). A larger proportion of white adults (90%) versus black adults (85%) also exceed dietary sodium intake daily (P = .02). Ninety-two percent to 94% of children (age range, 2-18 years) consumed excess sodium.

In addition, Dr Jackson and colleagues observed that people consuming more kilocalories tended to consume more sodium, compared with people consuming fewer kilocalories. Sodium density was highest among people aged 19 to 50 years, and lowest among children aged 2 to 3 years. Total sodium consumption was significantly higher among men than women (P <.001); sodium density did not differ significantly.

Eighty-six percent of patients with hypertension had a higher daily sodium intake than recommended. This is significantly less than adults with prehypertension (91%) and without hypertension (90%), the study authors noted.

“Given that the majority of the population consumes excess dietary sodium and one third of adults have hypertension, sodium reduction is an integral part of initiatives to prevent cardiovascular diseases,” Dr Jackson and colleagues emphasized. Several initiatives with that goal exist, including Million Hearts, the CDC’s Sodium Reduction in Communities Program, as well as the National Sodium Reduction Initiative.


  1. Jackson SL, King SMC, Zhao L, et al. Prevalence of excess of sodium intake in the United States—NHANES, 2009-2012. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2015;64:1393-1397.
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