Objective: A diet low in sodium, high in potassium, and high in calcium is recommended to lower blood pressure. However, compliance with this diet is poor, probably because of dietary intake underestimation. Therefore, we compared electrolyte intake as estimated from dietary recall with a 24-h urinary excretion.
Methods: Thirty-six patients (26 men and 10 women) with a mean age of 46 +/- 8 y participated in the study. All participants had essential hypertension and were on no drug therapy (n = 20) or non-diuretic monotherapy (n = 16). Patients were instructed to consume a low-sodium (50 mmol/d), high-potassium (supplementation with 30 to 60 mmol/d), and high-calcium (1000 mg/d) diet. Compliance with the diet was assessed at baseline and then 1, 2, and 3 mo after starting the diet. Sodium, potassium, and calcium intakes were carefully estimated from patients' dietary recall and 24-h urinary collection.
Results: Estimated sodium intake significantly correlated with 24-h urinary excretion (R = 0.43 P < 0.001). However, estimated sodium intake was lower than urinary sodium excretion by 34% at baseline and by 47% after 3 mo of dieting (P < 0.05). Estimated potassium intake correlated with 24-h urinary excretion. Estimated calcium intake significantly increased from 933 +/- 83 mg/d to 1029 +/- 171 mg/d (P < 0.05). Calcium intake derived from patients' recall far exceeded and only slightly correlated with 24-h urinary excretion (R = 0.23, P < 0.01).
Conclusions: Patients tend to underestimate their sodium intake by 30% to 50%; therefore, urinary sodium excretion is more accurate to assess sodium intake. Thus, 24-h urinary sodium excretion should be used in clinical practice and in clinical trials, especially when dietary non-compliance is suspected.