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Salt reduction may benefit bone health

November 2, 2009

Lower intakes of salt (sodium chloride) may have benefits for bone health in women at risk of osteoporosis, says a new study.

In the study, 92 women aged between 45 and 75 with pre- or early hypertension were randomly assigned to consume either a low-sodium diet, characterized by a higher basic or alkaline load, or a high-carbohydrate low-fat diet, characterized by a higher acid load (1). Both diets contained 800 mg dietary calcium per day.

After 14 weeks, the researchers noted that the women who consumed a low-sodium diet experienced reductions in calcium excretion compared to people consuming a high-carbohydrate low-fat diet.

The fall in urinary calcium excretion on the lower-sodium Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH)-type diet is likely to have a beneficial effect on bone in the long term, the researchers commented.

Salt is a vital nutrient and is necessary for the body to function, but the average daily salt consumption in the western world, between 10 and 12g, vastly exceeds recommendations from WHO of 5 grams per day to control blood pressure levels and reduce hypertension prevalence and related health risks in populations.

While the majority of the science has looked at the potential of reduced salt to reduce the risk of developing hypertension, with the ultimate aim of reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, the benefits of salt reduction may extend beyond heart disease. Increased salt intakes have also been linked, for example, to kidney and stomach damage.

References

  1. Nowson C. A. et al. The effects of a low-sodium base-producing diet including red meat compared with a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet on bone turnover markers in women aged 45–75 years. British Journal of Nutrition. 2009; 102:1161–1170.