Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Hypertension/High Blood Pressure Health Center

Font Size

Americans Still Reaching for the Salt Shaker

Study Shows No Reduction in U.S. Salt Intake Over the Past 4 Decades

Sodium Intake Study continued...

The American Heart Association recommends all Americans limit sodium consumption to no more that 1500 mg a day.

Bernstein and Willett note in the report that the prevalence of high blood pressure over the past 20 years has risen in the U.S. population and that higher dietary sodium is a factor in the development of hypertension. Overweight and obesity are also important factors.

The researchers cite computer simulation models finding that population-wide declines in sodium intake would decrease cardiovascular disease as well as costs, but say that only a few studies to prove that have been done.

Even so, the Harvard researchers support lowering sodium for all. ''We would support the recommendation for 1,500 milligrams a day," Bernstein says. "We would suggest lower intake for all."

The ‘Set Point’ Idea

The new review supports the idea of the body having a ''set point'' for sodium, says McCarron. "Your salt intake is a value that is really set by the body and physiology," he tells WebMD.

While most people's sodium intake fluctuates -- one day a high-sodium restaurant meal, the next day more salads and fruits -- it evens out, he says.

The study, he says, suggests the high salt intake found in the U.S. population can't be the fault of the food industry, which has been working to reduce salt content.

Salt intake, he says, "is a physiologically set number."

However, he says, "That doesn’t say that certain people shouldn't work very closely to achieve a lower salt intake. Number one would be [those with] cardiovascular disease, with hypertension. Not all with high blood pressure are salt sensitive. It would [also] include some patients with kidney disease."

But he disagrees with across-the-board recommendations to lower salt. "These blanket recommendations are not safe," he says.

Industry Perspective

Morton Satin, vice president of scientific research for the Salt Institute in Alexandria, Va., reviewed the report for WebMD.

In a blog he wrote in response to the study on his web site, he writes that "the sodium-hypertension link is not what it was quacked up to be!"

For most of the population, he tells WebMD, ''from a health point of view, there's no justification for cutting back on salt."

1 | 2

Today on WebMD

blood pressure
Symptoms, causes, and more.
Learn the causes.
Compressed heart
5 habits to change.
Mature man floating in pool, goggles on head
Exercises that help.
heart healthy living
Erectile Dysfunction Slideshow
Bernstein Hypertension Affects Cardiac Risk
Compressed heart
Heart Disease Overview Slideshow
thumbnail for lowering choloesterol slideshow
Heart Foods Slideshow
Low Blood Pressure

WebMD Special Sections