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Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Oct;98(4):1113-22. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.113.060012. Epub 2013 Aug 21.

Sodium and potassium intakes among US infants and preschool children, 2003-2010.

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Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA.



Data are limited on usual sodium and potassium intakes relative to age-specific recommendations and the sodium:potassium ratio in infants and preschoolers, especially among those aged <2 y, who are black or breastfed.


The usual sodium intake above the Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (ULs), potassium intakes above Adequate Intakes (AIs), the sodium:potassium ratio, and sodium density (mg/kcal) among US infants and preschoolers by age group, as applicable, were estimated and compared by race-ethnicity and current breastfeeding status.


Data were analyzed among 3 groups of children (aged 7-11 mo, 1-3 y, and 4-5 y) from the NHANES 2003-2010 by using measurement error models.


Seventy-nine percent of children aged 1-3 y and 87% of those aged 4-5 y exceeded their sodium UL; among non-Hispanic black children, the estimates were 84% and 97%, respectively. For potassium, 97% of infants, 5% of children aged 1-3 y, and 0.4% aged 4-5 y met their AIs. Compared with non-Hispanic whites and Mexican Americans, non-Hispanic black infants and preschoolers had higher mean sodium density and sodium:potassium ratios. Currently breastfed infants and children consumed, on average, less sodium than those who were not breastfed (382 ± 53 compared with 538 ± 22 mg in those aged 7-11 mo and 1154 ± 88 compared with 1985 ± 24 mg in those aged 1-3 y, respectively), but the sodium:potassium ratio did not differ.


Most US preschoolers, particularly non-Hispanic blacks, consume too much sodium, and nearly all do not consume enough potassium. Data that suggest that currently breastfed infants consume less sodium than do those who are not breastfeeding merit further investigation.

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