Study claims too little salt harmful for health

Wednesday 13 August 2014 22.21
Current guidelines recommend we consume low amounts of salt around two grams daily
Current guidelines recommend we consume low amounts of salt around two grams daily

New research has claimed that consuming too little salt can be harmful for health, in the same way as consuming too much can.

The studies, involving a large team of international scientists including one at NUI Galway, also found that the current maximum recommended intake of salt is actually too low and may even be unsafe.

Current guidelines recommend we consume low amounts of salt, around two grams daily.

However, a series of studies in the New England Journal of Medicine has cast doubt on those recommendations.

The largest ever such global collaboration, co-led by NUI Galway Professor Martin O'Donnell, the research looked at 100,000 people in 18 countries over four years. 

It assessed their sodium and potassium intake, and related that to blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and death.

The scientists found the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease and death in people who consumed moderate amounts of salt between three and six grams a day.

While those consuming above and below that range faced a higher risk, meaning there is an optimum level for salt consumption.

That according to the experts, is because low sodium intake can cause other effects, like elevated hormones that can lead to cardiovascular disease and death.

However, Professor O'Donnell says the findings do not mean people should become complacent about high salt intake, which remains a danger.

The researchers found the risk of rising blood pressure grows in those consuming more than five grams of salt a day.

They urge a balanced approach, of moderate salt intake combined with plenty of fruit and veg.

Keywords: nui galway, salt