New report on sodium intake


#1

I just saw this link on a new report from Institute of Medicine on sodium intake: “CDC Admits Long-Standing Error in Medical Science - There Is No Benefit In Reducing Salt Intake And It May Even Be Dangerous”. They released a new report, which is putting into question their recommendations on sodium intake. The report can be found here.

The basic gist is that they’re starting to think that their AI for sodium (1500 mg) is not optimal for all people and that their UL (2300 mg) is probably way too low. The average American consumes about 3400mg, and the research has had a hard time proving that this is actually bad for people. The AI is based on average salt loss from sweating and the IOM thinks it’s probably reasonable, but they think that encouraging people to target this amount may not be for the best.

The problem with sodium research has always been that they’ve basically used proxy data (a “surrogate indicator” as they call it below) to assess heart disease risk. A person consumes more sodium, their blood pressure goes up. Higher blood pressure is associated with heart disease. Therefore, they assumed it increased risk of heart disease. Alas, it’s probably much more complicated. Thus, when they actually look at research that tries to directly measure that correlation, by looking at how much salt people consume and how often they have heart disease, they don’t always find the correlation. Admittedly, there are weaknesses with this type of research, since these studies are observational studies. They just observe what people do and what happens to them. So, there’s no controls or randomization. This means you’re open to the possibility of all types of confounding factors (like, for example, that people who eat lots of sodium, might also eats lots of unhealthy food and not be terribly active), which you have to account for. Not all the research falls into these two categories, but that captures most of it.

Anyways, the conclusions of the report are: a)

the committee found no consistent evidence to support an association
between sodium intake and either a beneficial or adverse effect on
health outcomes other than CVD [Cardiovascular Disease] outcomes
(including stroke and CVD mortality) and all-cause mortality.

b)

the reviewed evidence on associations between sodium intake and direct
health outcomes … indicates a positive relationship between higher
levels of sodium intake and risk of CVD. This evidence is consistent
with existing evidence on blood pressure as a surrogate indicator of
CVD risk.

c)

The committee determined that evidence from studies on direct health
outcomes is inconsistent and insufficient to conclude that lowering
sodium intakes below 2,300 mg per day either increases or decreases
risk of CVD outcomes (including stroke and CVD mortality) or all-cause
mortality in the general U.S. population.


#2

In one article about that subject they talked about one of the potential problems being an imbalance between sodium and potassium, since most people don’t get ample potassium.


#3

THANKS for that even though it’s terribly frustrating, Joseph. These periodic reversals in nutritional so-called science drive me nuts.

You seem exceptionally well connected and genned-up on this stuff. Are you in this professionally in any way? I’ve been curious for awhile. I do appreciate your helpfulness here on the forum, you’re quite an asset for us all. :smiley:


#4

Updates on the sodium debate:

Recommended between 2,645 and 4,945 mg.


#5

yeah, its frustrating. “Don’t eat X, it will kill you” “wait, no, we were wrong, eat lots of X” “oh, wait, not that much” “nvm, bottoms up”


#6

Granted its an old topic but it showed up in my feed and i couldnt resist. Since we need to consume it anyway, its probably best to stick to ‘AI’ when we are not sure which metric to follow. Govt food nutritional guidelines (the common number used by all agencies) usually have a play it safe approach. And my mantra is ‘When you are not sure…play it safe’.