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Calcium Supplementation More Effective Than Sodium Reduction in Lowering Blood Pressure

Intake of calcium and minerals is more important than sodium restriction in reducing blood pressure, according to a recent analysis of data from a major study known as the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES).

The findings were reported at the High Blood Pressure Research Council 57th Annual Conference. They were the result of data collected from 20,050 Americans ages 20 to 74 from 1980 to 2000 gathered as part of the NHANES study. In addition to blood pressure measurements, the data derived from NHANES included 24-hour dietary recall (subjects' recollection of food and supplements consumed). The amount of sodium, calcium and total mineral (calcium, magnesium and potassium) intake also was included in the NHANES data.

Researchers determined that salt intake only adversely affected blood pressure when a person was deficient in calcium. When calcium intake was adequate, salt had no effect on blood pressure. As calcium intake increased, blood pressure decreased. The researchers concluded that salt sensitive hypertension is more likely to indicate a poor diet than a predisposition to hypertension.


McCarron, DA, et. al. Dietary Sodium Effects on Blood Pressure Are Dependent on Mineral Intake: Analysis of NHANES III and IV Data. Presented at the High Blood Pressure Research Council 57th Annual Conference, September 25, 2003, Washington, D.C.

Key concepts:

blood pressure, hypertension, calcium, sodium, salt