Race, education, and dietary cations: findings from the Third National Health And Nutrition Examination Survey

Ethn Dis. Winter 1998;8(1):10-20.


Hypertension, which has been associated with high intake of sodium and low intake of calcium, magnesium, and potassium, is highly prevalent among African Americans. To examine differences in dietary intakes of calcium, magnesium, and potassium between whites and African Americans, and the effect of education on these differences, the author analyzed data from a nationally representative sample that participated in the first phase of the National Health and Examination Survey III from 1988-1991. The analytic sample included 6,046 white participants and 2,226 African-American participants with complete information for age, race, education, and diet. Dietary information was collected from a single 24-hour dietary recall. African Americans consumed less calcium, magnesium, and potassium than whites regardless of educational achievement. Sodium intakes from diet were similar between the two groups. Among whites, intakes of calcium, magnesium, and potassium were positively related to educational attainment. Among African Americans, only magnesium intake was positively related to educational attainment. Because the prevalence of hypertension among African Americans exceeds that among whites, increases in the consumption of calcium, magnesium, and potassium could help to prevent and control excess hypertension among African Americans.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Calcium, Dietary / administration & dosage*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Diet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Educational Status*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Magnesium / administration & dosage*
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Surveillance
  • Potassium, Dietary / administration & dosage*
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Potassium, Dietary
  • Magnesium