Report at a Glance
Studies Support Population-Based Efforts to Lower Excessive Dietary Sodium Intakes, But Raise Questions About Potential Harm From Too Little Salt Intake
Recent studies that examine links between sodium consumption and health outcomes support recommendations to lower sodium intake from the very high levels some Americans consume now, but evidence from these studies does not support reduction in sodium intake to below 2,300 mg per day, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine.
Despite efforts over the past several decades to reduce dietary intake of sodium, a main component of table salt, the average American adult still consumes 3,400 mg or more of sodium a day – equivalent to about 1.5 teaspoons of salt. The current Dietary Guidelines for Americans urge most people ages 14 to 50 to limit their sodium intake to 2,300 mg daily. People ages 51 or older, African Americans, and people with hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease – groups that together make up more than 50 percent of the U.S. population – are advised to follow an even stricter limit of 1,500 mg per day. These recommendations are based largely on a body of research that links higher sodium intakes to certain “surrogate markers” such as high blood pressure, an established risk factor for heart disease.