TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -Sodium is essential to heart health, and potassium can reduce blood pressure. Now, guidelines for safe consumption levels of both have been tweaked to help reduce risk for chronic disease.
"Most Americans eat unsafe levels of sodium without realizing it," Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association, said Tuesday in a statement emailed to UPI.
The sodium intake guidelines have been revised to 110 mg daily for infants 0 to 6 months; 370 mg daily for infants 7 to 12 months; 800 mg daily for children ages 1 to 3; 1,000 mg daily for ages 4 to 8; 1,200 mg daily for ages 9 to13; and 1,500 mg daily for ages 14 and older.
The findings were published Tuesday in The National Academies of Sciences.
The study was conducted by Committee to Review the Dietary References Intakes for Sodium and Potassium, a joint venture between Health Canada and several U.S. health organizations.
"The science is clear linking excess salt to high blood pressure -- a serious, widespread and largely silent health threat," Brown said. "Nearly half of all U.S. adults have cardiovascular disease, largely due to high blood pressure. Now is the time to break up our nation's love affair with salt to improve public health."
Too much sodium can cause high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease and stroke that affects about 75 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Our excessive sodium intake isn't entirely driven by the salt shaker, it's largely controlled by the food industry. More than 70 percent of sodium consumed is added to food before it reaches our plates," Brown said. "It is added in restaurants and during the manufacturing of processed and prepackaged foods."
According to the new CDRR recommendations, people older than age 14 should reduce sodium intake below 2,300 mg per day, which lines up with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration recommendations limiting sodium intake.
In an odd twist, potassium intake recommendation from the CDRR were also lowered from amounts suggested in 2005. Those standards are now at 400 mg daily for infants 0 to 6 months; 860 mg daily for infants 7 to 12 months; 2,000 mg daily for children ages 1 to 3; and 2,300 mg daily for ages 4 to 8. For older age groups those numbers range from 2,300 to 3,400 mg per day.
Potassium helps lower blood pressure, which contributes to cardiovascular disease, according to the AHA. The organization still recommends 4,700 mg per day for the average adult.
"We hope this report encourages the Food and Drug Administration to quickly release its voluntary sodium reduction targets for the food industry," Brown said. "School leaders should also take note and reject the recent U.S. Department of Agriculture decision to weaken sodium standards in school meals and continue their commitment to serve students healthier foods. These two actions will drive the food industry to innovate and reformulate to use less sodium."