Send to

Choose Destination
Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Aug;96(2):439-44. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.111.025353. Epub 2012 Jul 3.

Reducing the sodium-potassium ratio in the US diet: a challenge for public health.

Author information

Nutritional Sciences Program, School of Public Health, University of Washington, Seattle, USA.



The 2010 Dietary Guidelines emphasized that dietary sodium should be limited to 2300 mg/d, with a lower limit of 1500 mg/d for adults aged >50 y, non-Hispanic blacks, and those with diabetes, hypertension, or chronic kidney disease. The potassium goal remained at 4700 mg/d.


The objective was to identify subpopulations for whom the 1500- or 2300-mg Na/d goals applied and to examine the joint sodium and potassium intakes for these persons.


The analyses were based on NHANES 2003-2008 data for 12,038 adult men and women aged ≥20 y. Persons aged >50 y, non-Hispanic blacks, and persons with hypertension, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease were identified. Mean sodium, potassium, and energy intakes were obtained from 2 nonconsecutive 24-h dietary recalls. Historical analyses of the sodium-potassium ratios in the American diet were based on NHANES 1971-2006.


Among persons recommended to consume <2300 mg Na/d, <0.12% jointly met the sodium and potassium guidelines. In the 1500-mg/d group, the guidelines were jointly met by <0.015%. Based on Dietary Guidelines, the corresponding dietary sodium-potassium ratio was either 0.49 (2300/4700) or 0.32 (1500/4700). Historical analyses of NHANES data by age-sex groups from 1971 to 2006 showed that sodium-potassium ratios were never <0.83.


Joint dietary guidelines for sodium and potassium, intended for most American adults, are currently being met by ≤0.015% of the population. Extraordinary efforts will be needed to meet the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center