Sodium recommendations for special populations and the resulting implications

J Community Health. 2011 Oct;36(5):874-82. doi: 10.1007/s10900-011-9371-9.


Based on the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans, sodium recommendations are set at 2,300 mg for the general population and 1,500 mg for special populations. However, sodium intake among adults has been shown to be much higher than this; on average 3,436 mg. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that special populations (those with hypertension, African Americans, and those 40 years of age and older) make up 70% of adults in the United States. Excess sodium in the diet has been shown to contribute to problems such as blood pressure abnormalities, kidney function problems, and congestive heart failure, which account for a large sum of health care costs in the United States. The purpose of this review and accompanying three case studies was to explore if adherence to the sodium recommendations for special populations is feasible. Current literature shows that while a food industry-wide sodium reduction would help reduce overall sodium intake, adherence to low-sodium diets is difficult for the majority of individuals. Three case studies were completed which looked at subjects with a sodium recommendation of 1,500 mg. None of the participants met the recommendation, were aware of their daily sodium intake or knew how much they should be consuming. The snapshot provided by these case studies suggests further research is warranted. Because of the current state of sodium in the American diet, a combination of personal interventions coupled with widespread industry sodium reduction would be the most beneficial way to reduce dietary sodium for most individuals.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Black or African American / psychology
  • Diet, Sodium-Restricted*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Policy*
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Sodium, Dietary / administration & dosage*
  • United States


  • Sodium, Dietary