A conflict between nutritionally adequate diets and meeting the 2010 dietary guidelines for sodium

Am J Prev Med. 2012 Feb;42(2):174-9. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2011.10.009.


Background: Compliance with dietary guidelines means incorporating multiple foods and nutrients into everyday diets, to be consumed in smaller or larger amounts. Feasibility studies can help determine whether one nutrient guideline comes into conflict with another. For one half of the U.S. population, the 2010 dietary guidelines for sodium were set at 1500 mg/d.

Purpose: To test the compatibility of the 1500 mg/day sodium goal with nutrient-adequate diets.

Methods: Analyses, conducted in 2010, used U.S. federal nutrient composition and dietary intake databases to create modeled food patterns for six gender-age groups using linear programming techniques. The food patterns were designed to meet nutritional standards for 27 nutrients as the mean sodium content was progressively reduced from levels observed in the 2001-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) down to 1500 mg/day.

Results: For adults aged <50 years, the 2300 mg/day sodium goal was consistent with nutrient-adequate diets but required large deviations from current eating patterns. The 1500 mg/day goal was not feasible and no mathematical solution was obtained. The lowest-sodium food patterns that were nutrient-adequate and theoretically achievable were very high in fruit juices, nuts, and seeds but were low in grains and meats.

Conclusions: Compliance with the 2010 sodium guidelines will require large deviations from current eating behaviors and/or a profound modification of the U.S. food supply.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Algorithms
  • Female
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Nutritional Requirements*
  • Sex Factors
  • Sodium, Dietary / standards*
  • Young Adult


  • Sodium, Dietary